Nonookeiht! (Good Morning)
For centuries, it has been taught that the best way to reach a people and teach them your beliefs is through their own words and their own traditions. There were several Christian missionaries on the Wind River Reservation that understood this, the foremost being Reverend John Roberts. Among his papers was found this translation of the Lord’s Prayer in phonetic Arapaho. I have shared it below because I found it beautiful and fitting to see a prayer in our ancestor’s voice. It is excerpted from “Walk Softly, This is God’s Country”, the book written by Robert’s granddaughter.
The Lord’s Prayer
Heesieva hene Sunawuneet; Heneseet vedenau; Nuchaja honoit, haithauka hinona. Haithet honoit nauvedaw, hasau heesjeva. Jevenaa nuhw desene vethewa. Jeva gaudauvandadau desnundaun, as jegaudauvananeua wchadaunau… Jevaethaaitchthaa hada ethete, Hessevahee Hesunaunin, Nevahaistaut detcanehe. Hoiee.
Walk Softly, This is God’s Country pg. 175
Since this was first written in the early 1900’s, the Arapaho language has been translated using the Czech alphabet and so this prayer would be written a lot differently today. For instance, I recognize the word ‘ethete’ which is what the missionaries took to mean good. The actual word of good began with a soft ‘h’ sound and is now written as “hii3eti”. Interesting side story – our Arapaho town is called “Ethete” which, of course, the missionaries thought was the translation for Good.
For more lessons and words in Arapaho, I highly recommend the Arapaho Project that was headed by Professor Andrew Cowell. He is a perfect example of someone who has become fluent in the language and is preserving it for the next generation of our tribe!
For more in-depth information on Father Roberts, please follow this link: