London: The British and Foreign Bible Society, 1876.
Tall duodecimo: 17.2 x 10.8 cm. 89 p. Collation: A-C12, D6, E4 (-blank E4).
SECOND EDITION (1st ed. 1855).
A fine copy, bound in original pebbled green cloth over thin boards (with minor edge-wear, light staining), ruled in blind and with "St Mark" tooled in blind at foot of upper board. Contents extremely fine. Small tear to blank front endpaper.
“The Cree are the most populous and widely distributed Indigenous peoples in Canada. The main divisions of Cree, based on environment, language and dialect are Plains Cree, Woods Cree, and Swampy Cree…. Cree is one of the most widely spoken Indigenous languages in Canada. In the 2016 census, 96,575 people reported speaking Cree, the majority of which (27.8 per cent) live in Saskatchewan.
This translation of the Gospel of Mark into Eastern Swampy Cree was written by the missionary and philologist James Hunter, Archdeacon of the Cumberland Mission, Station in “Rupert’s Land”, the vast Canadian territory under the control of the Hudson's Bay Company.
“Despite its status as a widely spoken Indigenous language in Canada, Cree is still a declining mother tongue. In 2016, Statistics Canada reported that Saskatchewan — the province with the most Cree speakers — had 28,340 people identifying as having an Indigenous language as their mother tongue. This was less than the number of speakers from 2011 (30,895). Many cultural and educational institutions strive to preserve and promote the language.”(The Canadian Encyclopedia)
Hunter arrived in Canada in 1844. “Even before he had acquired a proper knowledge of Cree, Hunter began translating religious literature. He advocated Roman characters rather than the syllabic script developed for the Crees in 1840 by the Reverend James Evans at Rossville (Man.). Hunter’s scholarly mind could not accept the imprecision of the syllabic system which he regarded as merely a kind of shorthand. Yet formal schooling was essential to master the Roman alphabet whereas the mnemonic features of the syllabic script could be learned by a nomadic people within a day.
“Hunter’s competence in Cree grew after his marriage on 10 July 1848 to Jean (Jane) Ross, eldest daughter of Donald Ross, the HBC factor at Norway House (Man.); she had learned the language in infancy, and she now joined Hunter in his work. Impatient to see translations in print, Hunter proposed their printing in England as early as 1848. Bishop Anderson, however, advised further revision, as he found inconsistencies in Hunter’s orthography, and as late as 1853 the bishop wrote that “his translation is still, I tell him, a little over spelt, rather too many letters. . . .”
“Copies of the Gospel of St Matthew, printed in England by the Church Missionary House, had arrived at York Factory on the supply ship of 1853. When the Hunters went to England on furlough in the autumn of 1854 they saw a large number of their translations through the press. Among their publications in 1855 were the Gospels of St Mark and St John, the Book of Common Prayer, Jean Hunter’s translation of the first epistle general of St John, and a catechism. Most of these were reprinted in the late 1870s, and many are still in use. Some of the Hunters’ translations were issued eventually in syllabic script. Jean Hunter also compiled hymns. In recognition of his work as a translator Hunter was granted an ma by the archbishop of Canterbury in 1854…
“In 1875 his great study, A lecture on the grammatical construction of the Cree language, was published by the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge. Much of the 265-page volume is given over to paradigms of the Cree verb. It remains a basic source in the study of the language. The archbishop of Canterbury awarded him a dd in 1876.”(Dictionary of Canadian Biography).
Pilling Algonquian p. 245. Peel, Bibliography of the Canadian Prairies, 11149. Darlow & Moule 3119