Filled with wisdom about love and life, these Native American prayers, poems, blessings, and proverbs portray the perfect messages that brides and grooms need to hear when they are getting married. For instance, in traditional Ojibwa (aka Chippewa) marriage ceremonies, the bride and groom each hold an eagle feather in their left hand while saying their vows.
When searching for readings for Native American nuptials, you've likely come across the Apache Wedding Prayer. Surprisingly, and despite its prolific online presence, this popular blessing isn't attributed to any Native American Tribe. It actually comes from a simulated Apache marriage ceremony (between James Stewart and Debra Paget) that featured in the 1950 western "Broken Arrow." Its words, however, are still poignant:
Now you will feel no rain,
For each of you will be shelter to the other.
You'll likely find even more inspiration in collections of readings for a Native American unity ceremony, which originated within the Navajo, Pueblo, and Hopi Nations. In addition, author Leslie Gourse has compiled a moving array of indigenous love poems and marriage folklore in her book, "Native American Courtship and Marriage Traditions," which is chock-full of tribal wedding customs. Here are a few to consider:
I add my breath to your breath
that our days may be long on the Earth,
that the days of our people may be long,
that we shall be as one person,
that we may finish our road together.
Teach me how to trust my heart, my mind, my intuition, my inner knowing, the senses of my body, the blessings of my spirit. Teach me to trust these things so that I may enter my sacred space and love beyond my fear and thus walk in balance with the passing of each glorious sun.
Native American Proverb
Listen to the wind, it talks.
Listen to the silence, it speaks.
Listen to your heart, it knows.
Hold on to what is good, even if it is a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe, even if it is a tree that stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do, even if it is a long way from here.
Hold on to life, even when it is easier letting go.
Hold on to my hand, even when I have gone away from you.
Attributed to Chief Seattle (Duwamish)
When you know who you are, when your mission is clear and you burn with the inner fire of unbreakable will, no cold can touch your heart, no deluge can dampen your purpose. You that you are alive.
You are part of me now.
You touched me with your kindness,
your lips are kind.
Your eyes glow with life.
I'm glad you touched me.
You're part of me now.
One evening, an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf wins?"'
The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."