A Re-telling of the Sacred Scriptures for Native Americans and all English speaking First Nations People!
The idea for this project began in 2002 while Darlene and I lived on the Hopi Indian reservation in Northern Arizona. We were looking for ways to tell the story of the Bible to Native Americans, in a culturally relevant context. After a season of research, we were convinced that no one had yet attempted this.
Further research discovered that even though a few Bible printing organizations had put “Indian” covers and art on “easy to read” Bible versions, no one had made any English speaking translations specifically aimed at Native peoples. We found the very small print and formatting in these bibles made it difficult to read for many of the men in our drum circle gatherings.
With this in mind, I began to write a condensed version of the Bible story. This was done with feedback from Native American Christian leaders and others. The result was our CD The Great Story from the Sacred Book. The feedback we have received from this CD has been overwhelmingly positive from Natives and non-natives alike.
One Native Elder told me, “You say it in English the way we think it in our language”. Another Native Elder said, “If the missionaries had told it to us this way, we would have listened long ago.” The CD also won the Native American Music Award for “Best Spoken Word” in 2009.
Since 2009 I have been paraphrasing some favorite scriptures for use in our live events as small stories. Again, the response has been positive. I have also been working on telling the story of the birth of Jesus now released as a pre-publication sample. Additional feedback was asked from Native Americans young and old, traditional and modern, male and female, some of whom are followers of Jesus. All have told me they are touched deeply and drawn into the “story” in ways that traditional translations fail to accomplish.
Often, I have been asked if I was planning a translation of the Bible. The task is, quite honestly, overwhelming. But I can’t deny my belief that such a version aimed at Native Americans and First Nations English speaking people is needed and wanted.
The word “translation” doesn’t really describe this project; it is more of re-telling of the Scriptues in the tradtion of the storytellers of oral cultures—some might call it a paraphrase. It is similar, in concept, to The Message by Eugene Peterson or The Living Bible by Kenneth N. Taylor. But, it is different in the sense that it attempts to convey the rhythm and feel of an oral storyteller.
The FNV is not intended to replace standard translations but to present the scriptures with word textures and choices that relate in a general way to Native Americans and other First Nations English speaking people. It is also not intended to be culturally or tribally specific.
My intent is to re-tell, in the tradition of the oral cultures, the story of the Bible. In doing so, I draw on the 15 years of experience I share in relationship with many Native Americans, and also from the 30 years of ministry experience which has included in depth bible study and theological reflection.
This retelling is personal, as it reflects my own experience and perspectives. Each story is told in ways that are unique to the storyteller and meaningful to the listeners, drawing from history, tradition and experience. A storyteller will insure the essense of the story is preserved without the need to present a strict word for word recital. All four of the Gospel authors present the story of Jesus this way. They were inspired with the freedom to re-order some details and to emphasise aspects of Jesus’ teachings, all in different but complimentary ways, to fit the purpose of their telling.
We plan to create a written and oral (audio) version of this project. The written version will be formated for ease of reading using comfortable paragraph and font styles that lend themselves to reading aloud.
We would like to have the opportunity to dedicate a significant amount of time to this project. Most of our income comes from when we travel and share our music and storytelling at our “events”. This includes churches, powwows, conferences and more. This takes up most of our time and energy and leaves us with small time periods to write and record our music.
In 2011 we took 2 months off the road for me to finish the book that I had been writing sporadically for a couple of years. This took a financial toll on us for that year.
We have made a six month commitment to minimize our traveling and work on the following.
Will you join with us financially?
★ Paraphrase the 4 Gospels into one combined narrative and publish in book form.
★ Produce an “audio book” of the completed 4 Gospel combined narrative.
★ We estimate a paperback version in 12 point font to be about 250 pages or more.
We don’t know if we can accomplish this in 6 months, but would sure like the opportunity to try!
If you don’t want to donate with a credit card you can send a check or money order made out to Rain Ministries.
Send it to Rain Ministries, PO Box 1500 Maricopa, AZ 85139.
Rain Ministries is a non-profit corporation based in Arizona and a 501-c3 federally recognized non-profit. You gift is tax deductible.