[Cantonment, Ok.]: Printed in the interest of the Mennonite Mission Among the Cheyennes, 1912. ,299pp. Original brown cloth, stamped in black. Light wear to binding, spine ends slightly frayed. Inner hinges cracked but holding. Contents clean and fresh. About very good. Item #1808
Rare edition of this translation of two gospels into the Cheyenne language, printed for use by the Mennonite Mission near Canton, Oklahoma, where they also operated an Indian School. The author, Rodolphe Charles Petter, was a Swiss Mennonite, who immigrated to the United States in 1890 when in his mid-thirties for the express purpose of proselytizing the Native Americans. He spent a year at Oberlin College to learn English before arriving at the Cantonment Mennonite Indian School in 1891, where he spent the next twenty-five years as a teacher and missionary for the Cheyenne. In 1916, he left Oklahoma for Lame Deer, Montana, where he continued his activities among the Northern Cheyenne until his death in 1947. Petter published numerous works of Cheyenne grammar and language during his lengthy career, including a massive English-Cheyenne dictionary; the present translation of the gospels of Luke and John is one of his earliest efforts.
Petter's introduction to this work is written from the mission at Cantonment, and is dated August 1902, but the book was first printed in Indiana on the press of the Berne Witness, a tri-weekly, bilingual newspaper for the Swiss and German immigrants who populated the town, and also the official printing house for the Mennonite Church in the United States in late-19th and early-20th centuries. This second edition was published in Cantonment in 1912 and was produced on an eccentric, early 20th-century printing device called the Gammeter Multigraph. The machine, invented by H.C. Gammeter, was an unwieldy combination of typewriter and office printing press, and was typically used to reproduce typewritten letters and forms for distribution in large numbers. The production of an entire book, such as the present volume, would have been a complex and time-consuming personal undertaking.
Very unusual and quite scarce -- we locate only a smattering of institutional copies in OCLC; none in Oklahoma and lacking from many major Indian language and western history collections.
Ayer, Cheyenne 4.