Chapter 9: Algonquian Prayers and Texts

by Dr. Frank Waabu O'Brien, Aquidneck Indian Council

A language gives the ability of human beings to do anything within possibility. The capability to Pray, Sing, Name and Speak forms the multidimensional quatrad of all audible and inaudible human communication within and between the natural, preternatural and supernatural realms of being and doing. To say it another way— Praying, Singing, Naming and Speaking are the gifts of the Creator available to men, woman and children of this land.

I have worked as a lone wolf for 9-10 years on the reconstruction and revival of the lost and sleeping American Indian languages of southeastern New England. The Aquidneck Indian Council, Inc., in Newport, RI, was founded, formed, and governed by aboriginal peoples of North America. The Council realized that no Indian language annihilated by the harsh lessons of American History could possibly be regenerated no matter how much IQ from the natural realm descended on this bloodless ghost. We felt the preternatural and supernatural metaphysical realms could once again speak, or that one could turn up the volume of the voices always there.

These examples of my pyrrhic victories over the past decade are dedicated to the memory of Cjegktoonupa (Slow Turtle), Supreme Medicine Man of the Wampanoag Nation.

I. The Lord's Prayer

From John Eliot (1669). The Indian Primer; or, The Way of Training up of our Indian Youth in the good knowledge of God, in the knowledge of the Scriptures and in the ability to Reade. Cambridge, Massachusetts. Reprinted Edinburgh, Scotland: Andrew Elliot, 1880. [Courtesy of The John Carter Brown Library at Brown University].

N∞shun kesukqut
Wunneetupantamunach k∞wesuonk
Peyaum∞utch kukkeitass∞tam∞onk.
Toh anantaman ne naj okheit, neane kesukqut.
Ásekesukokish petukqunnegash assaminnean yeu kesukok
Ahquontamaiinnean nummatcheseongash,
neane matchenehikqueagig nutahquontamanóunonog.
Ahque sagkompagininnean en qutchhuaonganit,
webe pohquohwussinnan wutch matchitut;
Newutche keitass∞tam∞onk, kutahtauun,
menuhkesuonk, sohsúmóonk michéme kah michéme
Amen.

Our Father which art in Heaven
Hallowed be thy Name
Thy Kingdom come
Thy will be done in Earth, as it is in Heaven
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our tresspasses,
as we forgive them that tresspass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the Kingdome,
the Power, the Glory, for ever.
Amen.

II. Traditional Wampanoag Prayer

From Cjegktoonupa (Slow Turtle), Supreme Medicine Man of the Wampanoag Nation

Nuppeantam

Keihtanit, nummag ne wuttamauog
Ohke, nummag ne wuttamauog
Okummus nepauzshad, nummag ne wuttamauog
Wutt∞tchìkkìnneasin nippawus, nummag ne wuttamauog
Taubot neanawayean
Nummag ne wuttamauog adt yau ut nashik ohke:
wompanniyeu
sowanniyeu
pahtatunniyeu
nannummiyeu
Taubot neanawayean newutche wame netomppauog:
neg pamunenutcheg
neg pamompakecheg
puppinashimwog
mehtugquash kah moskehtuash
namohsog
Quttianumoonk weechinnineummoncheg:
ahtuk
mosq
mukquoshim
tunnuppasog
sasasō
Keihtanit, nummag ne wuttamauog

I pray

Great Spirit, I offer this tobacco
Mother Earth, I offer this tobacco
Grandmother Moon, I offer this tobacco
Grandfather Sun, I offer this tobacco
I thank you
I offer this tobacco to the four directions
to the east
to the south
to the west
to the north
I thank you for all my relations:
the winged nation
creeping and crawling nation
the four-legged nation
the green and growing nation
and all things living in the water
Honoring the clans:
the deer
the bear
the wolf
the turtle
the snipe
Great Spirit, I offer this tobacco

III. Thanksgiving Prayer

From the Aquidneck Indian Council, 1997

Keihtanit
Taubot neanawayean yeu kesukuk
Taubot neanawayean ohke
Taubot neanawayean okummus nepauzshadd
Taubot neanawayean wutt∞tchìkkìnneasin nippawus
Taubot neanawayean newutche yau ut nashik ohke:
wompanniyeu
sowanniyeu
pahtatunniyeu
nannummiyeu
Taubot neanawayean newutche wame neetompaog:
neg pamunenutcheg
neg pamompakecheg
puppinashimwog
mehtugquash kah moskehtuash
namohsog
Quttianumoonk weechinnineummoncheg:
ahtuk
mosq
mukquoshim
tunnuppasog
sasasō
Keihtanit
Taubot neanawayean yeu kesukuk

Great Spirit
I thank you today
I thank you for Mother Earth
I thank you for Grandmother Moon
I thank you for Grandfather Sun
I thank you for the four directions:
the east
the south
the west
the north
I thank you for all my relations:
the winged nation
creeping and crawling nation
the four-legged nation
the green and growing nation
and all things living in the water
Honoring the clans:
the deer
the bear
the wolf
the turtle
the snipe
Great Spirit
I thank you today

IV. Monument Translation

The Aquidneck Indian Council was contacted by Deputy Director Jane Civens of the Rhode Island Committee for the Humanities (RICH) in 1997, to participate in a unique humanities project. The Committee desired to show the multicultural diversity within the City of Providence in The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. In the State capital, Providence, about 25 different human languages are spoken by the city’s inhabitants. The Committee commissioned a monument commemorating this rich cultural diversity, and embracing the Spirit of The City of Providence as a refuge or haven for all peoples. Organizations representing these different language and cultural groups were given the task of translating into their own language the English phrase “A Refuge for All”.

MENUHKONOG WUTCHE WAME

was the Council’s translation of the phrase “A Refuge for All”. The translation is documented to mean “a stronghold (or fort) [noun, abstract] for all/everyone”). The font and size and ensemble of the carved-lettering is not recalled by the author. The linguistic construction is written in the extinct southeastern New England Algonquian, derived from the John Eliot “Indian Bible”. The three-word Indian language phrase is hand-carved on a small stone-tablet (among the other language translations) within the monument grounds. The outdoor permanent monument is situated in Providence, RI on Canal Street, adjacent to the Providence River, just outside the entrance to a Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) auditorium building. It is the only local Indian language translation of this extinct language ever created for a public monument by American Indians within the State. Jane Civens, the RICH/National Endowment for the Humanities, is acknowledged for this important humanities work. It was one of the highlights of our Council’s public works.

V. Kehchisog

Written by Frank Waabu O'Brien

Kehchisog peantamwog wutche pashpishont
Kehchisog peantamwog wutche wayont
Nuppeantamumun wutche Kehchisog
“Kehchisog nissimun peantam∞k wutche pashpishont”
“Kehchisog nissimun peantam∞k wutche wayont”
Nepauz pashpishau
Wayau
Kehchisog peantamwog

The Elders pray for the rising of the sun
The Elders pray for the setting of the sun
We pray for the Elders
“Elders, please pray for the rising of the sun”
“Elders, please pray for the setting of the sun”
The sun rises
The sun sets
The Elders pray

VI. Keihtanit∞m

Written by Frank Waabu O'Brien

Keihtanit∞m
magunutche nashaüonk
wadchanish

Keihtanit∞m
magunutche meechummuonk
wadchanish

Keihtanit∞m
magunutche weechinnineummoncheg
wadchanish

Keihtanit∞m
magunutche wunnegenash
wadchanish

Keihtanit∞m
magunutche pomantamooonk
wadchanish

Keihtanit∞m
kesteau yau ut nashik ohke
wadchanish

Keihtanit∞m
pasuk naunt manit
wadchanish

O Spirit
That gives us our breath
Watch over us

O Spirit
That gives us our food
Watch over us

O Spirit
That gives us our family
Watch over us

O Spirit
That gives us our happiness
Watch over us

O Spirit
That makes all living
Watch over us

O Spirit
That makes us one with you
Watch over us

O Spirit
You are the only One
Watch over us

VII. Traditional Rabbit Story

Translated by Aquidneck Indian Council. Reprinted in Gatherings: The En’owkin Journal of First North American Peoples, Vol. IX, Fall, 1998

“The Rabbit Story” is an old Algonquian legend. It was selected from the famous recording of the history and culture of New England Indians made by Princess Red Wing of the House of Seven Crescents [Courtesy of Mary Benjamin].
Princess Red Wing was the best known educator among our people. She was well honored in her lifetime—she knew Eleanor Roosevelt, Senators, Governors, and many other people. She was the first Native American woman to address the League of Nations in New York. Princess Red Wing was inducted into the RI Hall of Fame, listed in Who’s Who in the World, and many more honors.
This translation effort was the first attempt to use the grammar, and, as such, is primitive. But the Algonquian-speaking Native children of Canada understood it.

Unnehtongquat Papaume Mohtukquasēmēs

Pasuk kē suk adt ’ninnauwāet mohtukquasēmēs quequeshau. Ho moocheke tohkoi.
Pēyau yean anumwussukuppe. Pumukau mehtugq waeenu kah waeenu. Teanuk waban ootshoh. Sonkquesu. Wussin, “nussonkques”.
Popomshau mehtuhq nano. Naim ushpuhquaeu kesukquieu. Wussin, “Pish muhpoo.”
Naim muhpooï. Pumukau moocheke waeenu kah waeenu anumwussukuppe. Togkodtam muhpoo manunne.
Naim sauùnum onk tohkootaau mehtugq yeuyeu onk kussukkoueu. Koueu noadtuk. Tookshau. Muhpoo mohtupohteau. Quinnupohke ashkashki.
Noh wahteunk mohtukquasog, wahheau nag na sohqutteahhauhaog. Nagum nont qushitteaonk. Mat queshau wutche mehtukq. Paskanontam. Yanunum wuskesukquash onk queshau wutche mehtukq.
Tiadche petshau kenompskut. Wussissetoon kuhkukque musqueheongane. Yeuyeu nishnoh mohtukquas mahche pohki kuhkukque mussisstoon — mahche neese kuhkukque mussisstoonash.
Asuh ahquompak kepshont wusseettash waapemooash adt wuhhog. Yeuyeu nishnoh mohtukquas onk nishnoh “Easter Bunny” mahche neese tiohquekekontash.
Aoog adt touohkōmuk onk nok wompiyeuash dtannetuog ut anumwussukuppe nummukkiog Indiansog newutche mohtugquasēmesog wussukqunnash.
Kesteausu.

A little rabbit went out to walk on a cool day in the Fall. Oh, it was real cool.
And he came to a willow tree, and so he began to dance around and around. Well, by and by the wind came up and he began to shiver. “Oh, it’s kinda cool.”
So he danced faster and faster around the willow tree. After awhile he looked up into the sky. And he said, “I think it’s going to snow.”
By and by it did snow. So he danced faster and faster around the willow tree and patted the snow all down.
By and by he became so tired that he sat down on a limb of the willow tree and went to sleep.
He slept so long that when he awoke all the snow had melted and down below was all green.
Now you know the rabbit is a very timid animal. He was sitting up in the willow tree and he was afraid to jump out of a tree.
He was very hungry. He shut his eyes up tight and fell right out of that tree.
When he did, he cut his upper lip on a sharp stone. Now every rabbit has a split upper lip.
But when he fell out of that tree, he jammed his front legs right up into his body. Now every single rabbit and every single Easter Bunny has two short legs.
But when he fell out of that tree, he caught his tail and now every single rabbit has a short tail.
Now, when you’re driving through the country in the Spring next year, and you come to a willow tree and think you’re picking pussy willows .... why all the little Indian children know that’s where the rabbit left his tail on the willow tree.
The end

VIII. Powwow Speech In Historical and Reconstructed Narragansett American Indian Language

From 2000 Rhode Island Indian Council Powwow, Roger Williams Park, Providence, RI

ENGLISH

ALGONQUIAN

Greetings

as cowequássin

Today I speak Indian

nutteenàntowam  anamakeésuck

I am called Waabu[3]

ntússaweitch Waabu

We welcome all tribes !

yeuyeu neenáwun wunnégin wáme ninnimissinûwock !

Listen to me !

kúkkita !

I speak very truly !

achie nonaûmwem !

Let us cease this warring !

aquêtuck !

We gather in peace

kummoúwinneem  aquéne–ut

We pray today

nuppeeyauntâmumun anamakeésuck

The DRUM speaks truly

popowuttáhig  wunnaûmwaw naugum

Let the DRUM speak !

popowuttáhig mishaûntowash !

Let the DRUM speak truly !

popowuttáhig nanátowash !

My heart is pure

wunnêtu ntá

Peace !

aquène !

Aho !

aho !

Go on to Chapter 10: Spirit Names
Go back to the Algonquian Language Revival Table of Contents



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