The holiday-shopping season is full upon us, and those who celebrate Christmas are in a flurry of activity. Carols are on the air, surrounding us in a cacophony of fa-la-la-la-la and White Christmas, angels and light. That’s all well and good, but it’s mostly in English—and none of it in an indigenous language. While Canada does have its own Christmas carol, written in the 1640s in the Huron language of Wendat, there is not much else.
Today we spice up the musical offerings with lyrics that may be familiar—that is, if you speak Woodland Cree, Ojibwe, Navajo, Cherokee or Arapaho. These tried-and-true melodies have been translated into various Native languages. Some of them even have lyrics so you can sing along.
Jingle Bells in Woodland Cree, sung by Laura Burnouf
Hark the Herald Angels Sing, sung in Ojibwe by the Pine Family
Little Drummer Boy in Navajo, sung by the The Fruitland Gospel Trio, featuring Pastor Daniel Smiley
Amazing Grace, sung in Cherokee
Lastly, hauntingly beautiful Silent Night, sung in Arapaho by Grammy winner Jana Mashonee