Nearly a two year project, sense of accomplishment near completion
By: Darren DeLaune/Reporter
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma —The New Testament King James Version of the Holy Bible was translated into the Mvskoke language in 1887.
However, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Mvskoke Language Program wanted to take it a step further.
They thought it would be ideal to have the translation of the New Testament made available in an audio recording.
MLP Graphic Designer Brandon Barnett was onboard with the project from the beginning.
“We all decided to do this but we did not know what it was going to take for it to be completed,” he said.
Barnett said to get everything setup logistically was a process. One of the things they wanted to do was to get several speakers reading different books in the New Testament.
“Ultimately, it was decided to use one person and that was Jimsey Harjo from Rock Springs Church,” he said.
Barnett said that Harjo was open to doing the speaking.
“He felt it was a lifelong dream,” he said. “To do a project such as this one.”
Barnett said when they started doing the reading they had some detours.
“I would put him (Jimsey) in the (sound) booth and he would have a hard time doing certain things,” he said. “He would have a hard time with his delivery of the verses and pronunciation of certain words.”
Over time, Barnett said they would both get in a rhythm with how they wanted the translation.
“When we started getting these books cranked out it was a great experience,” he said.
They would work on certain chapters in the books of the New Testament. For instance, if they worked on Matthew 1, they would go through the whole chapter and then listen to it.
“If there were mistakes as far as pronunciation, I would make a master’s list of what was needed re-recorded,” Barnett said. “Once he was satisfied then we would move onto chapter two. It was painstakingly long.”
It was not only those two that worked on it. The whole department helped them with pronunciation and making sure the right words were said.
“Everyone contributed,” Barnett said.
Currently, the whole project took 20 months and is currently still going.
“I am 99.9 percent done with it,” Barnett said. “I just need a few more tweaks and I am finished.”
Barnett said the sense of accomplishment that they feel is unreal.
“I feel relief that this is nearly finished,” he said. “We are giving this back to our community, our tribe and people.”
Barnett mentioned that he went to film school in both California and New York but always knew that someday he would come back to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation with the knowledge that he received.
“Once I figured out how to do these things, I knew one day that I would be bringing it back home,” he said. “I would be helping our people with what I learned and giving back to them.”
Barnett said through all of his years, this project was the hardest thing he has done in his life.
“By far,” he said.
MLP Program Manager Judy Montiel said that in the 20 months during the project, they have seen a lot of things transpire; one was the citizen’s reclaiming their language in projects such as these.
“We feel this is one aspect, but a very important aspect,” she said. “We want to provide those resources to people who have the desire to learn our language.”
Montiel also said there was a woman who said after reading the Holy Bible in the Mvskoke language she felt that she learned new words because of what she read.
“She was happy to use the Bible as a reference and a teaching tool to learn,” she said.
Barnett said he is getting the language onto cd’s for everyone who wants to learn the New Testament in the Mvskoke Language. He hopes to produce it as an e-book for whoever is interested.
“It will be free to everyone,” he said. “Everyone will have access to it.”
For more information on the translation of the New Testament into the Mvskoke Language or any other resources from the department, contact MLP at: 918-732-7649.