Many people assume that Native Americans in the United States live mainly on reservations in rural parts of the country. Yet, over 70 percent of people of Native American descent actually live in urban areas. The largest city in the United States, New York, hosted “Gateway to Nations,” a Native American celebration and powwow, from June 5-7, 2015. * When some of Jehovah’s Witnesses in New York became aware of the event, they immediately made plans to attend. Why?
Jehovah’s Witnesses translate Bible-based literature into hundreds of languages, including many Native American languages, such as Blackfoot, Dakota, Hopi, Mohawk, Navajo, Odawa, and Plains Cree. So Witnesses set up attractive tables and carts at the “Gateway to Nations” event to display some of this literature, including the tract You Can Trust the Creator!
Our official website also features audio and video recordings in most of the aforementioned languages. Witnesses at “Gateway to Nations” played a number of these recordings for curious visitors, who noted that most of the other displays, signs, and performances were presented only in English or Spanish.
Many who attended the event were impressed not only by our efforts to translate into so many Native American languages but also by our Bible-education work in cities and on reservations. After becoming acquainted with our work, one staff member of the event asked for a Bible study, saying, “I’m really looking forward to your visit and learning about the Bible!”
A Native American couple who are deaf approached one of our displays, but the Witnesses there were unable to communicate with them. However, just then a Witness who had learned sign language arrived. She spent about 30 minutes conversing with the couple and helped them to locate a sign-language convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses in their area.
Over 50 of Jehovah’s Witnesses participated in this Bible-education effort, and visitors to their displays accepted more than 150 pieces of literature during the three-day event.
^ par. 2 A modern powwow, according to anthropologist William K. Powers, “is a secular event comprised basically of group singing as an accompaniment for social dancing participated in by men, women, and children.”—Ethnomusicology, September 1968, page 354.