Personal Prayer



The Arapaho people believe their tribal rituals, ceremonies and prayers are a private matter, not to be shared with outsiders. Prayers are generally not recorded or written down, although there are a few exceptions, such as prayers for the survival and revival of the language, which have been printed and shared. You may however be interested in saying a purely personal prayer, only for yourself or your family, in Arapaho. This page does not give you a prayer, but it does give you the vocabulary used to make basic prayers.


Note that the posting of this page on the web has been approved by Alonzo Moss, Sr. and William J. C'Hair, co-chairs of the Northern Arapaho Language and Culture Commission. The page was also presented to an audience of Arapaho elders at the Cheyenne-Arapaho Language Conference in Denver, CO in March 2013, and they approved its posting as well.


1. You normally start a prayer by speaking to the creator. There are several words for the creator:


Play Neixóó = my father

Play Heisonóónin = our father

Play Beeheetéíhin = ruler/creator of all

Play Beehiiniisonoonibéíhin = father of all


2. Common requests in prayers:


Play Cih'ówouunoní = have pity on me! have mercy on me!

Play Cihbee3ihí = bless me!

Play Cih'oonoyoohowu = watch over me!

Play Cihniiteheibí = help me!


The first part of the words, cih-, is added for emphasis, and stresses that the prayer is asking for action directed towards the speaker/prayer. The verbs used are:


Play Howouunon- = pity

Play Bee3ih- = bless

Play Hoonoyoohow- = watch over

Play Niiteheib- = help


If you want to say 'us' rather than 'me', you put -ei'ee on the end of the verb, rather than -i or -u (-u is used when the vowel in the preceding syllable is o and the next consonant is h, ', w, x or k):


Play Cih'ówouunonéi'ee = have pity on us!

Play Cihbee3ihéi'ee = bless us!

Play Cih'oonohooyobéi'ee = watch over us!

Play Cihniiteheibéi'ee = help us!


If you want to say 'him' 'her' or 'them', you put -in/-un or -inee/-unee on the end of the verb (they both mean the same thing - some speakers use one, some use the other; the rule for -un(ee) is the same as for -u):


Play Cih'ówouunonín = have pity on him/her/them!

Play Bee3ihín = bless him/her/them!

Play Hoonoyoohowun = watch over him/her/them!

Play Niiteheibín = help him/her/them!


You can always add additional words to be more specific:


Play Cihbee3ihín téí'yoonóh'o' = bless the children

    Cihbee3ihín beh'éíhoho' = bless the old men

Play Cihbee3ihín betebíhoho' = bless the old women

Play Cihbee3ihín heeneecxooyéihí3i' = bless the people of all ages


For inanimate objects, you can use the following:


    Cihbée3itii nuhu' bíí3wo = bless this food

Play Cihbée3itii nuhu' huusi' = bless this day

Play Cihbée3itii nuhu' hinóno'eitíít = bless the Arapaho language

    Cihbée3itii nuhu' hinóno'einííne'etíít = bless the Arapaho way of life


3. One special prayer word is Play kookóu'unei(hii), meaning 'please.' This word is not used between people, to be polite, as in English 'please open the door.' It is only used in prayers.


Another special prefix used often in prayers is heetíh- meaning 'let it be that...' or 'we ask that...' or 'I request that....':


    Heetíh-'iiyoo3no'eeckóohu-3i' = 'I/we ask that they all reach home safely'

    Heetíh-'inentééni-t = 'I/we ask that he/she be healed, recovered, well again'

    Heetih-'onobéé-' = 'I/we ask that it be joyous, happy, festive'

Play Heetíh-ni'í3ecóó-3i' = 'I/we ask that they be happy, contented'


4. To conclude a prayer, people normally say Play nohuusóho' meaing 'that's how it is, that's it' or more loosely, 'amen.' You can also say: Play heetíh-néé'eesoo-' = 'I/we ask that it be so, that it be thus, like that.'