Language: A Historical Perspective On Intercessory Prayer for Native America


Historical References and Anniversaries

The English Language in Indian Schools – Pages XX thru XV
Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs
To The Secretary of the Interior
The Year 1887
By J.D.C. Atkins (Sept 21, 1887)

Main Website for Online Copy of Entire Report

Webpage for the pages pertaining to “The English Language in Indian Schools”

Webpage to the quote from February 2, 1887 – (Which is our emphasis of prayer)

Reference in Phil Konstantin’s book, This Day In North American Indian History
That pertains to February 2, 1887 – Law passed to prohibit Indian language in school.

That quote says:

February 2, 1887
“In reply I have to advise you that the rule applies to all schools on Indian reservations, whether they be Government or mission schools. The instruction of the Indians in the vernacular is not only of no use to them, but is detrimental to the cause of their education and civilization, and no school will be permitted on the reservation in which the English language is not exclusively taught.”

The whole section “The English Language in Indian Schools” in the 1887 Annual report is the author’s belief and plea to encourage the Government to make it unlawful for American Indians to speak their original languages. The report includes several quotes from earlier 1887 reports (February & July), as well as several paragraphs of new thoughts and studies from the Sept 21, 1887 report.

Following the restatement of his February & July thoughts, the author says:

“This (English) language, which is good enough for a white man and a black man, ought to be good enough for the red man. It is also believed that teaching an Indian youth in his own barbarous dialect is a positive detriment to him. The first step to be taken toward civilization, toward teaching the Indians the mischief and folly of continuing in their barbarous practices, is to teach them the English language.”

The report goes on for another 14 paragraphs. To many these reports from 1887, beginning with February 2, 1887, mark the official beginning of the movement against the American Indian language. They also potentially mark the approval, by the Government and the Church, for the unspeakable abuses that were permitted in order to carry out the movement.

For context, look at what else was going on at the time that the ruling authorities were making it unlawful to speak indigenous languages:

National League (NL) of Professional Baseball Clubs: February 2, 1876.

Ground Hogs Day: February 2, 1887

Buffalo Police Department Detective – Officer Down: February 2, 1887

Navy: February 2, 1887
The Norfolk Branch of the U. S. Naval Institute in a discussion, Capt. George C. Remey, U. S. Navy, said: “Having regard solely to geographical location and site, I regard the Norfolk Navy Yard as the first in importance of all the navy yards belonging to the government.

I look at those calendar dates and events, thinking of the Navy, the police department, the baseball leagues and even the appointing of an official ground hog for predicting the weather, and I think how could people be so naive about this greater issue of culture and identity. It boggles my mind when I see all those things together. Yet, I wasn’t there. There is not one person living today who can give testimony to the fullness of the hearts and motivations of the people who instigated the widespread movement against the American Indian languages. To the best of my knowledge, we do not have stories indicating Yahweh’s heart in these specific matters, either. So, we consult the Holy Spirit and Scripture for direction in how to pray regarding these significant anniversaries of policy against indigenous language from our past, as well as their affect on our future.

Scripture References

Scripture can provide Biblical history, early church culture and spiritual principles for Believers today. The Holy Spirit can guide us in how Yahweh wants us to apply these in our prayers for our North American indigenous people.

Origin of Multiple Languages

“And the whole earth was of one language and of one accent and mode of expression. And as they journeyed eastward, they found a plain (valley) in the land of Shinar, and they settled and dwelt there. And they said one to another, Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly. So they had brick for stone, and slime (bitumen) for mortar. And they said, Come, let us build us a city and a tower whose top reaches into the sky, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered over the whole earth. And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, Behold, they are one people and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do, and now nothing they have imagined they can do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down and there confound (mix up, confuse) their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from that place upon the face of the whole earth, and they gave up building the city. Therefore the name if it was called Babel – because there the Lord confounded the language of all the earth; and from that place the Lord scattered them abroad upon the face of the whole earth. ” Genesis 11:1-9 (Amplified)

Loss of Language through Intercultural Marriage

“In those days also I saw Jews who had married wives from Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. And their children spoke half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak the Hebrew, but in the language of each people.” Nehemiah 13:23-24 (Amplified)

Keeping Secrets by Using Other Languages / Spreading Falsehoods by Using the Language

“Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah and Shebna and Joah said to the Rabshakeh, We pray you , speak to your servants in the Aramaic (Syrian) language, for we understand it; and do not speak to us in the Jews’ language in the hearing of the people on the wall. But the Rabshakeh said to them, Has my master sent me to your master and you only to say these things? Has he not sent me to the men who sit on the wall [whom Hezekiah has doomed to be forced] to eat their own dung and drink their own urine along with you? Then the Rabshakeh stood and cried with a loud voice in the Jews’ language, Hear the word of the great king of Assyria! Thus says the king: Let not Hezekiah deceive you. For he will not be able to deliver you out of my hand. Nor let Hezekiah make you trust in and rely on the Lord, saying, The Lord will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of Assyria’s king.” 2 Kings 18:26-30 (Amplified) Also Isaiah 36:11-15.

Decrees in Multiple Languages / Encouraging Man’s Own Language in His Own Home

“He sent letters to all the royal provinces, to each in its own script and to every people in their own language, saying that every man should rule in his own house and speak there in the language of his own people. [If he had foreign wives, let them learn his language.]” Esther 1:22 (Amplified) Also Esther 3:12 and 8:9.

Plea to Confuse Language to Stop Strife

“Destroy [their schemes] , O Lord, confuse their tongues, for I have seen violence and strife in the city.” Psalm 55:9 (Amplified)

Yahweh’s Message Received Better with Multiple Languages

“For you are not sent to a people of foreign speech and of a difficult language but to the house of Israel. Not to many peoples of foreign speech and of a hard language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, had I sent you to such people, they would have listened to you and heeded My words.” Ezekiel 3:5-6 (Amplified)

“Then how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own (particular) dialect to which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and [the province of] Asia, Cyrene, and the transient residents from Rome, both Jews and the proselytes [to Judaism from other religions], Cretans and Arabians too – we all hear them speaking in our own native tongues [and telling of] the mighty works of God! And all were beside themselves with amazement and were puzzled and bewildered, saying one to another, What can this mean?” Acts 2:8-12 (Amplified)

All Languages Heard in Heaven

“After this I looked and a vast host appeared which no one could count, [gathered out] of every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages. These stood before the throne and before the Lamb; they were attired in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.” Rev 7:9 (Amplified) Read through verse 17.

Update on Language in Canada – Over a 100 years later:

February, 1990 – Parliament passes resolution upholding bilingualism; in response to municipalities declaring themselves English only Ottawa, Ontario. ( This has to do with English and French!! Not indigenous tribes.)

For context, here are lists of tribes in Ottawa.

Tribal Councils in Ontario

Reserves in Ontario

Update on Language in the US – Currently (2012) in Wisconsin

February 1, 2012 – Basketball player benched for speaking Native American language.

Update on Language in the US – Currently (2012) in Oregon.

February 18, 2012 – Native American Languages Siletz Dee-Ni, Ashininaabemowin
Facing ‘Extinction’

Update on Language in Canada

February 20, 2012 – First Nations may seek official status for languages

Prayer for Language

“Abba Father, Yahweh, so many of us has roots, inheritance and ancestry in other cultures, tribes and tongues. Many of us do not know the languages of our past. For some of us, our historical languages, spoken since You created them, have been long lost and even extinct. Yet, you can restore them and You have restored them in Your perfect time and by Your power, even through miracles, signs and wonders. Nothing is impossible to You. Thank you for all the beautiful languages, created for Your great purpose and by Your great power. Thank you for creating so many languages to declare Your glory, speak Your name, to sing You praises and to rise to the heavens in prayer. No language that You have created is barbarous or a detriment. Yet, mankind, no doubt at the hands of the evil one, has worked hard to kill, steal and destroy languages. Father, so much pain and destruction has taken place in trying to judge and control indigenous people and their tribal languages. We thank You for those who heard Your still small voice and who walked in obedience, seeking to preserve and restore indigenous languages, according to Your perfect will. We thank you for those who fought the good fight against the killing, stealing and destroying of these languages. We thank You for the blessings that we reap because of their triumphs and we pray that those blessings be guarded and protected from the enemy. We ask for Your mercy, grace and forgiveness as we face the consequences left behind from those whose ears were deaf to Your will and Your word and whose actions were in disobedience. We ask for Your mercy, grace and forgiveness as we face the consequences left behind by those who hoped to conquer, out of fear and ignorance, forgetting that You can lead your people, all your people, to prosperity and peace, receiving Your favor, while still preserving multiple cultures, peoples and languages. We ask that you remove all strongholds and curses that still remain. We pray for Your divine restoration and healing of the indigenous peoples of North America who have wounds from the loss of their languages, according to Your perfect will and good purpose. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

Rev. Jeny Running Brook Covill
First Nations Monday

(Note: This is Part 1 of a study that was originally prepared in February 2012 in partnership with NIAP Prayer Shield)

Books Used in this 12 Month Study

The Holy Bible in the following translations: KJV, NIV, Amplified, NASB, CEV and The Scriptures.

“Church History in Plain Language” by Bruce L. Shelley

“Encyclopedia of Native American Wars & Warfare”. General Editors William B. Kessel, Ph.D. and Robert Wooster, Ph.D.

“This Day In North American Indian History” by Phil Konstantin

As with the First Nations Monday prayer and Scripture studies, I like to study with 5 translations. As you go through these studies, I encourage you to do the same. “The Scriptures” is a translation that includes the original Hebrew names and has the books in chronological order. The Contemporary English Version (CEV) is a translation that is written for ‘oral tradition’ peoples and it flows well while reading it aloud. The Amplified version is one where meanings of words and phrases are ‘amplified’ for better understanding. The King James Version (KJV) is the translation that works well with Strong’s Concordance. The Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) is a great companion version that I find gives great insight.

In addition, consider the following:

First Nations Version Project
A retelling of the Sacred Scriptures for Native Americans and all English speaking Indigenous peoples.

Cherokee Bible Project – ONLINE – New Testament

Cherokee Bible Project – ONLINE – Old Testament

Cherokee Bible Project Titles in Book form:
(A joint mission of the Cherokee Bible Project and Four Rivers Native American Church)
Genesis in Cherokee
Haggai in Cherokee
Jonah in Cherokee
100 Days Of Indigenous Wisdom
Cherokee New Testament
New Cherokee Hymnal
Matthew’s Gospel in Cherokee
Mark’s Gospel in Cherokee
Luke’s Gospel in Cherokee
John’s Gospel in Cherokee
The Acts of the Apostles in Cherokee
ROMANS in Cherokee
JAMES to JUDE in Cherokee
John’s Revelation in Cherokee
Pastoral Epistles in Cherokee (coming)
General Epistles in Cherokee (coming)


  1. Reblogged this on First Nations Monday and commented:

    February historical prayer focus, part 1.


  2. […] Source: Language: A Historical Perspective On Intercessory Prayer for Native America […]


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