The Book of Common Prayer
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    The Book of Common Prayer in Mohawk


The Book of Common Prayer

in Mohawk

The Mohawks are one of the five original members of the Iroquois Confederacy, occupying the easternmost region of the Iroquois lands in upstate New York. As they were one of the larger tribes and, due to their location, the first to come into contact with the English, their language and culture were often taken to represent all the Iroquois, in spite of the fact that the Iroquois had three different languages and two additional dialects (Mohawk/Oneida, Onondaga, and Seneca/Cayuga). The Mohawk continue to live in both New York state and Ontario; it is estimated that there are today somewhat more than 3000 native speakers of the language.

The Iroquois supported the British during the American Revolution and so afterwards many of the Mohawks moved to Ontario so as to continue to be under British protection. Because of this, there are translations of both English and American Books of Common Prayer into Mohawk.

The Book of Common Prayer in Mohawk has an illustrous history. Of the four editions of the BCP printed in North America prior to the American Revolution, three were in Mohawk. Also, the very first printing of the Book of Common Prayer in Canada was a Mohawk translation. These translations are today extremely rare.

The translation used here is of the 1789 American Book of Common Prayer, and was the last Mohawk translation printed, in 1875. It is listed in David Griffiths' Bibliography of the Book of Common Prayer as 111:11, and is a reprint of a translation done by Eleazar Williams in 1853. Mr. Williams' history implies that the translation may have been primarily intended for members of the Oneida Tribe (closely related to the Mohawks) in Wisconsin. (Mr. Williams, by the way, has an interesting history, having claimed at one point to being "the lost Dauphin" - the child of Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette). This Book contains only a portion of the complete Book of Common Prayer, as may be seen by the Table of Contents below. Also on the web is an earlier printing of this book (1867, Griffiths 111:10) from the Internet Archive in PDF and plain text formats; and a collection of prayers translated into Oneida by the Rev. Mr. Williams.

Additionally, parts of the 1662 English Book of Common Prayer translated into Mohawk are on the web courtesy of Project Canterbury. This book in its entirety is also online in PDF graphics and plain text from Google Books.
    Finally, the first Book of Common Prayer printed in Canada, a Mohawk translation published in 1780 in Quebec (Griffiths 111:4), is online thanks to the Internet Archive, in PDF and plain text formats.

Thanks are due to Richard Mammana, who provided a copy of the book.




title page

the Rev. Eleazar Wiliams
The Rev. Eleazar Williams




Table of Contents

Morning Prayer
Evening Prayer
The Litany
Psalms (1-8 only)
Forms of Prayer to be used in Families



Web author: Charles Wohlers U. S. EnglandScotlandIrelandWalesCanadaWorld