The Ramseyer-Northern Bible Society Museum Collection contains examples of Scriptures in many of the languages spoken by the original inhabitants of the Americas. Four major language families - Algonkian, Macro-Siouan, Na Dené and Eskimo-Aleut - represented by twenty-one specific languages may be seen in the adjacent cases.
Missionary translators sometimes had to devise new syllabaries or alphabets to represent sounds or structures not easily handled by the Roman alphabet. The Cherokee alphabet and the Evans syllabary are examples on display.
It is interesting to note that because the right to print the Bible in English was a prerogative of the British Crown, the first printing of the Bible in the American Colonies was in Algonquian. But missionaries subsequently went all over the North American continent learning the languages of Native Americans and committing Scripture to writing for them. Father Baraga is a good example of such activities in this area. The American Bible Society and the British and Foreign Bible Society were the main publishers of their efforts.
The Ojibway dictionary compiled by Father Baraga in his missionary work in this area is still being published and used today.
[click thumbnail for large view]
GENESIS, EXODUS, LEVITICUS in EASTERN KUTCHIN
British and Foreign Bible Society, 1890, #518
GOSPELS in EASTERN KUTCHIN
British and Foreign Bible Society, 1874, #519
NEW TESTAMENT in NORTHERN OJIBWAY
Canadian Bible Society, 1988, #1374