What Are Some Traditional Native American Prayers?


Quick Answer

"Listen Grandfather Where I Stand" and the Earth Prayer are variations of a traditional Native American prayer attributed to Black Elk, a warrior and medicine man of the Oglala Lakota, or Sioux, tribe. Other traditional prayers of America's native peoples include the Cheyenne Prayer for Peace, the Zuni Prayer for Rain and "May All I Say," a prayer of the Pacific Northwest Chinook tribe. Images and symbols of the natural world are predominant in these and most Native American prayers.

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In his Earth Prayer, Black Elk seeks the Great Spirit's intervention to strengthen and revitalize the "sacred tree" so that his people can return to "sacred hoop" and know the tree's shelter. The Cheyenne prayer seeks peace that is as constant as the moon, the rivers, the sun and the grass. The Chinook prayer, "May All I Say," calls for personal harmony from a greater power, recognized as the "maker of the trees."

Yellow Lark, a Lakota Sioux chief, translated the ""Great Spirit Prayer" in 1887. This traditional prayer contains numerous natural references as it calls upon the Great Spirit to help the prayerful find beauty, learn respect, and know strength, wisdom and compassion. The Algonquin and Sioux tribes were the first to use the English words "Great Spirit" to represent the creator god of Native American traditions. For some Native Americans, these words refer to the Christian God, though many Native American sacred rituals and prayers included the concept of a great spirit or mystery prior to the arrival of Christian missionaries.

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