The Western Cree Bible: A Rich Legacy
A whole Bible was first published in “Western Cree” in 1862 by the British and Foreign Bible Society. It had been translated by William Mason (a missionary ministering in Norway House) and particularly by his wife Sophia Thomas Mason (from Red River, whose mother was Cree), with substantial contributions by indigenous co-workers John Sinclair and the Reverend Henry Bird Steinhauer. This was the second Bible printed in a North American indigenous language. This Bible was revised between 1904-1908 by Archdeacon MacKay and Richard Faries.
The “Western Cree” Bible, often reprinted, has remained in use in Cree communities up to the present day and is loved and revered by speakers of many varieties of Cree from Alberta to Northwestern Ontario. In recent times, the Canadian Bible Society and Cree partners digitized the old syllabics text and produced a parallel Roman script text, which are today available in a variety of print and digital formats. 2019 saw the completion of a first-time recording of the entire Western Cree New Testament by Cree elder Fred Evans and colleagues.
Western Cree Scriptures: Print, Audio, Digital
Contemporary Plains Cree Scripture Portions: A New Translation
The Canadian Bible Society commissioned a new Bible translation in Plains Cree in the 1990s. They engaged Anglican priest, Rev. Dr. Stanley Cuthand, to draft the NT and portions of the OT in Plains Cree as it is currently spoken. The drafts were reviewed by a committee of Cree speakers in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, over several decades. The following portions have been published, and are available in print, audio, and digital formats.
All of the above Plains Cree texts and audio are available free of charge to anyone on the YouVersion Bible app. Further work on the remaining unpublished drafts is not planned, but could be considered if requested by Cree communities.
Mission: Literacy Series in Plains Cree
This series of 30 Bible story booklets was produced in English by the American Bible Society in 2009 as the foundation for Bible-based English literacy programs. The Plains Cree translation of these story booklets was completed by CBS and Cree co-workers in 2018, along with a recording of the Cree texts. The beautiful art, together with the simplified Cree and English texts and voice-over make a powerful tool for Cree literacy and language revitalization. The booklets are available in the following configurations:
- Shrink-wrapped sets of 30 booklets. (Order booklets online)
- Sets of 25 single story booklets (class sets of single stories for school or Sunday school use)
- Thematic sets of 4-5 booklets (Genesis Stories, Birth of Jesus, Jesus Parables, The Death and Resurrection, etc.).
- ‘Talking’ ebooks of each booklet are coming soon. We are pleased to make one book available for download as a free sample: Book 12 nihtāwikiw Jesus (Jesus is Born). These talking ebooks are best experienced in iBooks on iPad or iPhone. They also work on Android devices in certain EPUB viewers, such as Infinity Reader.
The Canadian Bible Society’s Commitment
CBS is committed to serving the Cree church and Cree communities through stewardship of these invaluable historical and contemporary Bible texts. We continue to seek ways to support the dissemination of both the older and newer Cree scripture texts, and to encourage engagement with those texts by individuals and communities. We believe in orality and are committed to providing recordings for each Bible text published. We want to support indigenous community, language, and cultural renewal through the Mission: Literacy materials and other products that may be requested by communities. Whenever possible we make the Bible texts and recordings available free of charge digitally through YouVersion Bible app and other digital platforms.