What's the oldest written publication that was written in a Native American language?

  • 1
    Firstly, what do you mean by "book"? Native American literature was originally largely an oral tradition, and even their first written literature might not have been what you'd call a "book". Secondly, what do you mean by a language "created by" a Native American? I assume you're not looking for books in constructed languages - do you mean a native American language? From my brief research, it seems much of their early written literature was in English.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jan 30, 2021 at 9:32
  • 1
    I suspect this will be one of the lost Mayan codexes en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_codices
    – b_jonas
    Jan 30, 2021 at 14:35
  • Sorry,I meant any written publication in a invented written alphabet. Jan 30, 2021 at 14:52
  • 1
    What do you mean by "invented written alphabet"? Aren't all written alphabets invented — Is there such a thing as an uninvented written alphabet? Or do you mean a written alphabet invented specifically for that Native American language, which may restrict the language to Cherokee or Cree.
    – Peter Shor
    Jan 31, 2021 at 22:15
  • Invented specifically for a Native American language. Jan 31, 2021 at 22:16

1 Answer 1


Four codices

According to Britannica four codices exist.

Native American Literatures, Britannica

Four codices are known to exist: the Dresden Codex, the Paris Codex, the Madrid Codex, and the Grolier Codex.

Dated to between the classic and conquest period

The codices are dated to between the classic and conquest period.

Paris Codex, Britannica

The set of year-bearers appearing in the codex offers a clue to the date of its production, placing it midway between the Classic and Conquest periods of Mayan history.

Classic period

Just to give us an idea of when this period is, the classic period ends around the 10th century.

Written literatures, Britannica

Maya hieroglyphs on stone and wood are confined largely to the Classic Period (300–900 CE),

Conquest period

The conquest period dates to the 16th century.

Paris Codex, Britannica

Paris Codex, Latin Codex Peresianus, one of the very few texts of the pre-Conquest Maya known to have survived the book burnings by the Spanish clergy during the 16th century

Madrid codex 1400ad

For a more precise estimate we can look at the Madrid codex which is estimated to have been written around 1400ad.

Madrid Codex, Britannica

The Madrid Codex is believed to be a product of the late Mayan period (c. 1400 CE) and is possibly a post-Classic copy of Classic Mayan scholarship.

Oldest Native American written literature?

It appears to be either the Paris Codex written sometime between the 10th Century and 16th century, or the Madrid Codex, written approximately 1400ad, and thought to be a copy of earlier works

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.