Apache Wedding Blessing and Its Origin

Beautiful Poem, But Not Indigenous

Outdoor wedding ceremony

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If you are looking for an appropriate prayer or reading for your wedding or vow renewal, you can consider using the "Apache Wedding Blessing," but, before you do, you should know, it is not actually an Indigenous blessing. It is a poem written by a non-Indigenous author for a Western novel, which later turned into a movie starring Jimmy Stewart. 

Apache Wedding Blessing

It goes by many names, including Indian Wedding Blessing, Apache Blessing, Apache Wedding Prayer, Benediction of the Apaches, Cherokee Wedding Blessing, and Navajo Prayer. No matter its name, nor original purpose, it is a beautiful tribute for anyone to recite on their wedding day or for their vow renewal ceremony.

Now you will feel no rain,
for each of you will be shelter for the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
for each of you will be warmth for the other.
Now there is no more loneliness.
Now you are two persons,
but there is only one life before you.
May your days together be good and long
upon the earth.

Poem Origins

The growing consensus concerning the origin of the Apache Wedding Blessing is that the prayer is not part of Apache culture. It appears the Apache Wedding Blessing was written in 1947 by Elliott Arnold in his Western novel Blood Brother. The poem was popularized by the 1950 adaptation of the novel in a movie called Broken Arrow by screenwriter Albert Maltz.

"But so far as I can determine from research in libraries, speaking with scholars of Apache culture, and with actual keepers of Apache culture, the prayer appears to be a poetic fiction... It was a Native American, Ramon Riley, the cultural resource director of the White Mountain Apache Cultural Center, in Fort Apache, Arizona, who pointed me toward the apparent source of the Apache wedding prayer. 'It's from a movie called Broken Arrow, starring James Stewart and Deborah Paget,' he told me." —Rebecca Mead, author, "One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding"​

In the novel and film, Army captain and Pony Express rider Tom Jeffords ventures into Apache territory during the time of attacks on the newly formed U.S. mail service. Jeffords befriends Apache leader, Cochise, and brokers peace between the U.S. and Indigenous peoples. Jeffords marries an Apache woman, Morning Star. It was this wedding scene where it is believed that the Apache Wedding Blessing makes its appearance for the first time.

Dispute of Poem Origin

Other sources state that the blessing was freely adapted from the poem Wedding Braids by Stan Davis. Stan Davis, born in 1942, is a photo-realist painter who specializes in portraying scenes of the Blackfoot, Sioux, and Cheyenne tribes as they lived during the 19th century. Wedding Braids is the name of one of his popular paintings as well as the name of a poem he wrote.

Wedding Braids
By Stan Davis
Now you will feel no rain
for each of you will be shelter for the other
Now there is no loneliness
Now you are two persons
but there is only one life before you
Go now to your dwelling to enter into the
days of your life together and may your days
be good and long upon the earth