Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Native American Version Of The 23rd Psalm

As with many folks who live in the southeastern United States, Cherokee blood runs through my family's veins.

My older brother always took especial pride in this heritage, so much so that he regularly purchased magazines devoted to the American Indian. These I would read on the weekends I would spend in his bedroom (which I was allowed to do) when he spent nights away from home.

Always of interest to me was the spiritual outlook of Native Americans, I should have written outlooks, because there are many variations. Common is the view that there is a Great Spirit and that earth is our Mother. I like that. And my forebears, the Cherokees, held a monotheistic animism. I find that interesting as well.

I saved an old newspaper clipping which gives an "Indian" paraphrase of the 23rd Psalm, attributed to Warren Small Bear. I rather like this as well. It seems to me the closer we are to nature, the easier it is to believe in the Great Spirit.

The Great Spirit watches over me in the day and in the night. He understands my needs. In my lodge there is no crying for good. It is good to feel the green grass beneath my feet. The waters of many streams are cool when I am thirsty. He takes away my fears while I sleep. My moccasins walk the path of soft drums when council fires have burned low.

When I come near the shadow of the valley of the long sleep, my spirit will be strong and my heart will soar as the eagle. The Great Spirit has walked with me many days. When my sorrows cause me to sleep, I wake and find them gone. When my enemies would come against me, he makes them my friends. He pours the oils of his love over me until I am completely covered.

I desire only to live in peace with all men. Surely someday I will find that land where our lodges will never have to be moved, and that will be my dwelling place forever. Amen. 


  1. Hey Doug, that is great. Thanks for sharing it.

    Do you know much about your Cherokee heritage? Or about how the Cherokee lived before Europeans came to your country? I know so little about Native Americans.

  2. Hey unkleE. Lots of conflicting information about Native Americans. My area is rich in the sad legacy of the Trail of Tears, when the Cherokee nation was removed from their homeland and relocated to "Indian territory," far away from here. In fact, I live just a few minutes away from the Chief John Ross house. Ross was the Cherokee leader for many years and was also known as the Moses of the Cherokee nation. I have a fantastic DVD on the Trail of Tears, narrated by James Earl Jones. I highly recommend it if you are curious. Our treatment of the Native Americans is a stain on my nation.

    As for my own heritage, my mother's great grandmother was full-blooded Cherokee and lived to 105 years of age. Somewhere we have a photograph of her, lean and dark-skinned (it is black and white) and with well-chiseled features. On my dad's side of the family there is Cherokee on his mother's side, but I'm not certain how much. My dad's paternal lineage is Germanic.