Personal Prayer with Sound Files

This entry is from the Arapaho Language Project’s Language in Use at the bottom of this page:

The Arapaho people believe our tribal rituals, ceremonies and prayers are a private matter, not to be shared with outsiders. Prayers are generally not recorded or written down, although there are a few exceptions, such as prayers for the survival and revival of the language, which have been printed and shared. You may however be interested in saying a purely personal prayer, only for yourself or your family, in Arapaho. This page does not give you a prayer, but it does give you the vocabulary used to make basic prayers.

Note that the posting of this page on the web has been approved by Alonzo Moss, Sr. and William J. C’Hair, co-chairs of the Northern Arapaho Language and Culture Commission. The page was also presented to an audience of Arapaho elders at the Cheyenne-Arapaho Language Conference in Denver, CO in March 2013, and they approved its posting as well.

1. You normally start a prayer by speaking to the creator. There are several words for the creator:

neixóó ‘my father’
heisonóónin ‘our father’
beeheetéíhin ‘ruler/creator of all’
beehiiniisonoonibéíhin ‘father of all’

2. Common requests in prayers:

cih’ówouunoní = have pity on me! have mercy on me!
cihbee3ihí = bless me!
cih’oonoyoohowu = watch over me!
cihniiteheibí = help me!

The first part of the words, cih-, is added for emphasis, and stresses that the prayer is asking for action directed towards the speaker/prayer. The verbs used are:

howouunon– = pity
bee3ih– = bless
hoonoyoohow– = watch over
niiteheib– = help

If you want to say ‘us’ rather than ‘me’, you put -ei’ee on the end of the verb, rather than -i or –u (-u is used when the vowel in the preceding syllable is and the next consonant is h, ‘, w, x or k):

cih’ówouunonéi’ee = have pity on us!
cihbee3ihéi’ee = bless us!
cih’oonohooyobéi’ee = watch over us!
cihniiteheibéi’ee = help us!

If you want to say ‘him’ ‘her’ or ‘them’, you put -in/-un or –inee/-unee on the end of the verb (they both mean the same thing – some speakers use one, some use the other; the rule for -un(ee) is the same as for -u):

cih’ówouunonín = have pity on him/her/them!
bee3ihín = bless him/her/them!
hoonoyoohowun = watch over him/her/them!
niiteheibín = help him/her/them!

You can always add additional words to be more specific:

cihbee3ihín téí’yoonóh’o’ = bless the children
cihbee3ihín beh’éíhoho’ = bless the old men
cihbee3ihín betebíhoho’ = bless the old women
cihbee3ihín heeneecxooyéihí3i’ = bless the people of all ages

For inanimate objects, you can use the following:

cihbée3itii nuhu’ bíí3wo = bless this food
cihbée3itii nuhu’ huusi’ = bless this day
cihbée3itii nuhu’ hinóno’eitíít = bless the Arapaho language
cihbée3itii nuhu’ hinóno’einííne’etíít = bless the Arapaho way of life

3. One special prayer word is kookóu’unei(hii), meaning ‘please’. This word is not used between people, to be polite, as in English ‘please open the door’. It is only used in prayers.

Another special prefix used often in prayers is heetíh– meaning ‘let it be that…’ or ‘we ask that…’ or ‘I request that….’:

heetíh-‘iiyoo3no’eeckóohu-3i’ = ‘I/we ask that they all reach home safely’
heetíh-‘inentééni-t = ‘I/we ask that he/she be healed, recovered, well again’
heetih-‘onobéé-‘ = ‘I/we ask that it be joyous, happy, festive’
heetíh-ni’í3ecóó-3i’ = ‘I/we ask that they be happy, contented’

4. To conclude a prayer, people normally say nohuusóho’ meaing ‘that’s how it is, that’s it’ or more loosely, ‘amen’. You can also say: heetíh-néé’eesoo-‘ = ‘I/we ask that it be so, that it be thus, like that’.