From their first encounters with Christian missionaries, the North American Plains Indians used universal sign language to communicate Psalm 23 among tribes who spoke different oral languages. In 1894, Isabel Crawford, a Baptist missionary to the Kiowa Indians in Oklahoma, translated the Sign Version into literal English. Here is the Psalm 23 translation:
The Great Father above is a shepherd Chief.
I am His and with Him I want not.
He throws out to me a rope and the name of the rope is love and He draws me to where the grass is green and the water not dangerous, and I eat and lie down and am satisfied.
Sometimes my heart is very weak and falls down but
He lifts me up again and draws me into a good road.
His name is WONDERFUL.
Sometime, it may be very soon, it may be a long, long time.
He will draw me into a valley.
It is dark there, but I’ll be afraid not, for it is in between those mountains that the Shepherd Christ will meet me and the hunger that I have in my heart all through this life will be satisfied.
He gives me a staff to lean upon.
He spreads a table before me with all kinds of foods.
He puts His hand upon my head and all the “tired” is gone.
My cup He fills till it runs over.
What I tell is true.
I lie not.
These roads that are “away ahead” will stay with me through this life and after; and afterwards I will go to live in the great house and sit down with the Shepherd Chief forever.
~Isabel Crawford (Missionary to the Indians of the plains)
David is an award winning movie maker and author. Most notably, he is the former President of Paramount Pictures and the former Production President of Walt Disney Pictures. He is the Co-Founder of the MIT Center For Future Storytelling. His interests include storytelling, technology, and understanding the stuff that happens behind the curtain. His new project is a series of novels on Merlin.