Thursday, September 8, 2011

First Bible in Minnesota

An article appeared in a Winona MN newspaper during the Minnesota Centennial crediting Joseph Renville, my 3d great grandfather, with introducing the first Bible into Minnesota in the early 1820s.  It is said he imported the book from France.  While he could not read the book, he spoke fluent French as well as his native Dakotah language (language of the Sioux).  At the mission he established at Lac Qui Parle, the missionaries would read the book to him in French and he would repeat their words in the Dakotah language.  It was in this way that the Bible was first translated into the language of the Sioux.  The story goes that it took several years to complete the translation of all the books of the Bible.  Additionally, Joseph Renville translated several hymns popular at that time into the language of the Sioux and is credited with writing several hymns himself.  It is unfortunate that an accident at the mission caused a fire which destroyed that first Minnesota Bible.

The mission established by Joseph Renville at his fur trading post can be visited in Lac Qui Parle State Park near Montevideo, Minnesota.  Although the stockade and buildings of the fur trading post are no longer there, an historic marker marks the spot where it was placed next to the lake.