Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Mohican Catechism

So you want to know about Algonkian language? This is the Mohican dialect spelled out in the English alphabet. "Pohtommawwaus" is translated as "God," (one of only two or three Mohican words that I've memorized).

There are a few whites as well as a committee on the Stockbridge-Munsee reservation working on reviving the Mohican language and I've heard that Christian documents like this one are their only written sources for doing it. They also have taken some cues from the Munsee/Mohican Indians in Ontario, but of course, Munsees are Delaware (or Lenape) Indians and didn't necessarily use the same pronounciations as the Mohicans did. So how do you pronounce a Mohican word? One Indian told me that there are disagreements.

The Mohican catechism includes the following Calvinist documents and Biblical passages: The Assembly's Shorter Catechism, Dr. Watt's Shorter Catechism for Children, the 3rd Chapter of John, the 5th and 7th Chapters of Matthew, and select Psalms. The translation took place in the 1810's. In a letter to the Mohican News (10/15/2005), Lion Miles noted that while John Sergeant, Jr. got credit for the translation, it is most likely that three Stockbridge Mohican boys attending the mission boarding school in Cornwall, Connecticut did a large amount of the work. The boys were John N. Chicks, Jacob Seth, and John Newcome.

Thanks to the Wisconsin State Historical Society, the Mohican Catechism is now online.

No comments :