Psalm 23 : The North American Plains Indian Version

August 19, 2012 — 7 Comments
Kiowa Indian Camp

Kiowa Indian Camp

From their first encounters with Christian missionaries, the North American Plains Indians used universal sign language to communicate  Psalm 23  among tribes who spoke different oral languages. In 1894, Isabel Crawford, a Baptist missionary to the Kiowa Indians in Oklahoma, translated the Sign Version into literal English. Here is the  Psalm 23 translation:

The Great Father above is  a shepherd Chief.

I am His and with Him I want not. 

He throws out to me a rope and  the name of the rope is love and  He draws me to where the grass is green  and the water not dangerous,  and I eat and lie down and am satisfied. 

Sometimes my heart is very weak and falls down but 

He lifts me up again and draws me into a good road. 

His name is WONDERFUL. 

Sometime, it may be very soon,  it may be a long, long time. 

He will draw me into a valley. 

It is dark there, but I’ll be afraid not,  for it is in between those mountains  that the Shepherd Christ will meet me  and the hunger that I have in my heart  all through this life will be satisfied.

He gives me a staff to lean upon.  

He spreads a table before me  with all kinds of foods. 

He puts His hand upon my head  and all the “tired” is gone. 

My cup He fills till it runs over. 

What I tell is true.

I lie not. 

These roads that are “away ahead”  will stay with me through this life and after;  and afterwards I will go to live  in the great house and sit down  with the Shepherd Chief forever.

~Isabel Crawford (Missionary to the Indians of the plains)

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7 responses to Psalm 23 : The North American Plains Indian Version

  1. As a Native American I absolutely hate to see shit like this. An “Indianized” version of some christian propaganda. And, of course it was done by a missionary, not a tribal member. Bear in mind that we Natives were presented with christianity from a “convert or die,” type of inquisition. This is no different and I mean no different than taking quotes from the mein kamph and making “Jewish friendly” versions thereof….disgusting.

    • “we Natives”. You mean your ancestors were presented with a “convert or die” scenario. Don’t dramatize this.

      • Do not speak of that which you do not know. Do you think the oppression of Native cultures is over just because it was in a history book? A chapter in a history book you probably skimmed over in grade school. I have a formal education in such specific matters and have won national journalist awards in this field. There is no dramatization here friend.

      • I have two formal educations in this matter.

    • Hi. It was the sign language of a tribal member and translated by a missionary. I am not sure not a psalm from the Old testament would necessarily be quantified as “propaganda”…

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