Mohawk Bible Emerges from a Lifetime of Work
In August 2023, Harvey Satewas Gabriel’s lifelong investment in his Mohawk language culminated in the publication of a complete translation of the Bible into Mohawk. When he was 17, Harvey was amazed to hear United Church minister John Angus translate the Scriptures into Mohawk as he preached – the first time he had ever heard Mohawk read aloud.
Fluent in Mohawk, Harvey was eventually asked to read the Scriptures in Mohawk at church. But reading in Mohawk required him to translate short passages. In 1999, these efforts led him to take on the challenge of translating the entire Bible.
For more than 24 years he worked, sometimes alone, sometimes with others from the Mohawk community and the Canadian Bible Society (CBS), and always with encouragement from his wife, Susan. A grant from the United Church of Canada Foundation, funding from the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake, and funding and linguistic and translation expertise from the Canadian Bible Society helped him complete this great task.
Now at age 83, Harvey is grateful about the unveiling of the first Mohawk Bible, published by the Canadian Bible Society. In a recent interview with CBS, Harvey said, “You never get tired working with the Word of God. Never.” He said he wants the Bible to echo into the other Mohawk communities. “It is not my word. It’s not about me, it’s about Him.”
The Canadian Bible Society hopes that this Bible will make a positive contribution to the life of the Mohawk church and to efforts to revitalize and teach the Mohawk language. This Bible is a literary resource, a source of both old and current words and expressions, and it contains a message about the God’s love for all people that we hope will be a blessing to all Mohawk people.
In many Indigenous communities in Canada, the translation of and engagement with the Scriptures is considered strategic and valuable for the revitalization of language and culture. The Canadian Bible Society is eager to collaborate and welcomes requests to engage in the translation, publication, distribution, and engagement of Scripture for Canada’s Indigenous communities.
Read more about our Indigenous Bible translation projects.
Mohawk Bible Translation Timeline
Portions of the Bible first published in Mohawk in New York.
The Gospel of John translated and published, commissioned by the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS), beginning the Bible Society work in Canada.