Indian Wedding Blessing

Poem for weddings of non-Native origin

A poem known variously as the "Indian Wedding Blessing", "Apache Blessing", "Apache Wedding Prayer", "Benediction of the Apaches", "Cherokee Wedding Blessing",[1] and with various forms, is commonly recited at weddings in the United States 22. The poem is of modern non-Native origin, and is fake folklore (fakelore).[2]

The poem was originally written in 1947 by the non-Native author Elliott Arnold in his Western novel Blood Brother. The novel features Apache culture, but the poem itself is an invention of the author's, and is not based on any traditions of the Apache, Cherokee or any other Native American culture.[3] The poem was popularized by the 1950 film adaptation of the novel, Broken Arrow, scripted by Albert Maltz, and the depiction of the marriage is criticized as a "Hollywood fantasy" (Hollywood Indian stereotype).[4]

Poem

The poem, in its original form in the 1947 novel, begins "Now for you there is no rain / For one is shelter to the other" and ends "Now there is no loneliness. / Now, forever, forever, there is no loneliness".[5][6] The poem is not associated with any particular religion (aside from being misrepresented as Native American) and does not mention a deity or include a petition, only a wish.

The 1950 film text begins "Now you will feel no rain" and ends "Go now. Ride the white horses to your secret place."[7]

There are now numerous variations of the poem, generally based on the film, rather than the novel.[8] One modern form ends with "May happiness be your companion and your days together be good and long upon the earth."[2]

Criticism

The Economist, citing Rebecca Mead's book on American weddings,[9] characterized it as "'traditionalesque', commerce disguised as tradition".[10]

The poem has gained even wider exposure as a series of Internet memes, often accompanied by stereotypical depictions of Native Americans depicted as Noble savages. That it is continually misrepresented as Apache, Cherokee, or generic "Native American" is an example of both cultural misappropriation and modern fakelore.

Notes

  1. ^ "Cherokee Wedding Blessing" on Google Images
  2. ^ a b Falk, Leah (February 11, 2016). "The Fakelore of the Apache Wedding Blessing".
  3. ^ Blood Brothers, 1979, introduction: “There is no record of [Jeffords and an Apache girl] ever marrying, but… knowing the basically simple process of an Apache wedding, I have taken a writer’s liberty and imagined that such a wedding took place. The entire story of Jeffords and [the Apache girl] Sonseeahray is pure fiction and every detail of it was invented, against a known historical background.”
  4. ^ Mead, p. 136
  5. ^ Arnold, Elliott (1947). Blood Brother. New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce. p. 408.
  6. ^ Arnold, Elliott (1979). Blood Brother. New York: U of Nebraska Press. p. 332. ISBN 0-80325901-8.
  7. ^ Broken Arrow Full Movie 1950
  8. ^ Mead p. 136
  9. ^ Rebecca Mead, One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding, 2007, ISBN 1-59420-088-2
  10. ^ "American weddings: Beware the bridezilla monster", The Economist. May 26, 2007. Vol. 383, Issue 8530, p. 99. (A review of the book One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding. By Rebecca Mead. Penguin Press.) full text (available to subscribers only)

External links

  • Text of the Wedding Prayer at about.com
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