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Wildman translates First Nations Bible

Terry Wildman at AC 2016

InterVarsity Press has published a new translation of the New Testament with the leadership of Pastor Terry Wildman. Written in English, it is indigenized for Native American culture.

Pastor Terry Wildman served the Northport Indian Mission United Methodist Church, as a licensed local pastor, from 2015 to 2019. During that time he was also working as the lead translator and project manager for an indigenous language translation of the New Testament.

In an article published June 7, 2016, MIconnect reported, “Wildman has written four books. One of them, Sign Language: A Look at the Historic and Prophetic Landscape of America, describes how Native children were not only encouraged, but forced, to go to boarding schools. Wildman said Michigan had some of the early boarding schools. One was in Mt. Pleasant, run by the Methodist Church, and another one, in Harbor Springs, was operated by the Catholic Church. Their children were punished for speaking their Native languages. ‘Imagine,’ says Wildman, ‘not being able to speak your language then going home and not being able to speak with your parents and grandparents because they don’t speak English! This practice continued through the 1950s, so, there are persons alive today who remember that experience.’”

Five years later, Religion News Service explained in a feature released on August 31, 2021: “It occurred to Wildman that ‘since 90 percent of our Native people are not speaking their tribal language or reading their tribal language, we felt there needed to be a translation in English worded for Native people.'”

They also quote Wildman as saying, “We believe it is very important that the Gospel be kind of decolonized and told in a Native way, but being accurate to the meaning of the original language and understanding that it’s a different culture.”