American Indians Quotes

Quotes tagged as "american-indians" Showing 1-29 of 29
Sherman Alexie
“My school and my tribe are so poor and sad that we have to study from the same dang books our parents studied from. That is absolutely the saddest thing in the world.”
Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Sherman Alexie
“Gordie, the white boy genius, gave me this book by a Russian dude named Tolstoy, who wrote, 'Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.' Well, I hate to argue with a Russian genius, but Tolstoy didn't know Indians, and he didn't know that all Indian families are unhappy for the same exact reasons: the frikkin' booze.”
Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Pete Seeger
“The American Indians were Communists. They were. Every anthropologist will tell you they were Communists. No rich, no poor. If somebody needed something the community chipped in.”
Pete Seeger

Black Elk
“I did not know then how much was ended. When I look back now from this high hill of my old age, I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes still young. And I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard. A people's dream died there. It was a beautiful dream...”
Black Elk

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
“. . . [H]ad North America been a wilderness, undeveloped, without roads, and uncultivated, it might still be so, for the European colonists could not have survived. They appropriated what had already been created by Indigenous civilizations. They stole already cultivated farmland and the corn, vegetables, tobacco, and other crops domesticated over centuries, took control of the deer parks that had been cleared and maintained by Indigenous communities, used existing roads and water routes in order to move armies to conquer, and relied on captured Indigenous people to identify the locations of water, oyster beds, and medicinal herbs.”
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States

Black Elk
“Wherever we went, the soldiers came to kill us, And it was all our own country. It was ours already when the Wasichus made the treaty with Red Cloud, that said it would be ours is long as grass should grow and water flow. That was only eight winter’s before, and they were chasing us now because we remembered and they forgot.”
Black Elk, Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux

Black Elk
“Crazy Horse was dead. He was brave and good and wise. He never wanted anything but to save his people, and he fought the Wasichus only when they came to kill us in our own country. He was only thirty years old. They could not kill him in battle. They had to lie to him and kill him that way.
I cried all night, and so did my father.”
Black Elk, Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux

Sherman Alexie
“Peace and beauty? You think Indians are so worried about peace and beauty? ... If Wovoka came back to life, he'd be so pissed off. If the real Pocahontas came back, you think she'd be happy about being a cartoon? If Crazy Horse, or Geronimo, or Sitting Bull came back, they'd see what you white people have done to Indians, and they'd start a war. They'd see the homeless Indians staggering around downtown. They'd see fetal-alcohol-syndrome babies. They'd see the sorry-ass reservations. They'd learn about Indian suicides and infant mortality rates. They'd listen to some dumb-ass Disney song and feel like hurting somebody. They'd read books by assholes like Wilson, and they would start killing themselves some white people, and then kill some asshole Indians too.

Dr. Mather, if the Ghost Dance worked, there would be no exceptions. All you white people would disappear. All of you. If those dead Indians came back to life ,they wouldn't crawl into a sweathouse with you. They wouldn't smoke the pipe with you. They wouldn't go to the movies and munch popcorn with you. They'd kill you. They'd gut you and eat your heart.”
Sherman Alexie, Indian Killer

Martin Luther King Jr.
“For too long the depth of racism in American life has been underestimated. The surgery to extract it is necessarily complex and detailed. As a beginning it is important to X-ray our history and reveal the full extent of the disease. The strands of prejudice toward Negroes are tightly wound around the American character. The prejudice has been nourished by the doctrine of race inferiority. Yet to focus upon the Negro alone as the "inferior race" of American myth is to miss the broader dimensions of the evil.

Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian, was an inferior race. Even before there were large numbers of Negroes on our shores, the scar of racial hatred had already disfigured colonial society. From the sixteenth century forward, blood flowed in battles over racial supremacy. We are perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of national policy to wipe out its indigenous population. Moreover, we elevated that tragic experience into a noble crusade. Indeed, even today we have not permitted ourselves to reject or to feel remorse for this shameful episode. Our literature, our films, our drama, our folklore all exalt it.

Our children are still taught to respect the violence which reduced a red-skinned people of an earlier culture into a few fragmented groups herded into impoverished reservations. This is in sharp contrast to many nations south of the border, which assimilated their Indians, respected their culture, and elevated many of them to high position.

It was upon this massive base of racism that the prejudice toward the nonwhite was readily built, and found rapid growth. This long-standing racist ideology has corrupted and diminished our democratic ideals. It is this tangled web of prejudice from which many Americans now seek to liberate themselves, without realizing how deeply it has been woven into their consciousness.”
Martin Luther King Jr., Why We Can't Wait

Michael Blake
“There is no bitterness in Wind In His Hair's heart," he began. "Our minds may choose different paths, but some part of every heart will always be as one. All my life I have been a warrior, and I will not change. I will not die as anything else.
"The whites have taken much from me. They have taken my brothers, my wives, my children. Now they want to take me off the earth upon which I walk. Maybe they will kill me now, and if they do, so be it. I will not take their hands. I will keep my ponies' tails tied up for war."

- Wind In His Hair”
Michael Blake, The Holy Road

Sherman Alexie
“They called me an Indian pig. Oh, and they called me a prairie n*****. Pretty colorful, enit?"

"I suppose."

"That one pissed me off, though. I ain't no prairie Indian. I'm from a salmon tribe, man. If they were going to insult me, they should've called me salmon n*****."

"I'm surprised you can laugh about this."

"It's what Indians do."

"Weren't you afraid?"

"Yeah, I was afraid, but I'm afraid most of the time, you know? How would you feel if a white guy like you got dropped into the middle of a black neighborhood, like Compton, California, on a Saturday night?"

"I'd be very afraid."

"And that's exactly how I feel living in Seattle. Hell, I feel that way living in the United States. Indians are outnumbered, Officer. Those three guys scared me bad, but I've been scared for a long time.”
Sherman Alexie, Indian Killer

Angela Y. Davis
“In the United States we are at such a disadvantage because we do not know how to talk about the genocide inflicted on indigenous people. We do not know how to talk about slavery. Otherwise it would not have been assumed that simply because of the election of one Black man to the presidency we would leap forward into a postracial era. We do not acknowledge that we all live on colonized land. And in the meantime, Native Americans live in impoverished conditions on reservations. They have an extremely high incarceration rate—as a matter of fact, per capita the highest incarceration rate—and they suffer disproportionately from such diseases as alcoholism and diabetes. In the meantime, sports teams still mock indigenous people with racially derogatory names, like the Washington Redskins. We do not know how to talk about slavery, except, perhaps, within a framework of victim and victimizer, one that continues to polarize and implicate.”
Angela Y. Davis, Freedom is a Constant Struggle

“It Was Never Stolen Land. It Was Bought and Paid For. Now the Indians Are Trying to Renege.” By James Fulford, December 4, 2020, VDARE

[Fulford is quoting Felix S. Cohen:]

Fortunately for the security of American real estate titles, the business of securing cessions of Indian titles has been, on the whole, conscientiously pursued by the Federal Government, as long as there has been a Federal Government. The notion that America was stolen from the Indians is one of the myths by which we Americans are prone to hide our real virtues and make our idealism look as hard-boiled as possible. We are probably the one great nation in the world that has consistently sought to deal with an aboriginal population on fair and equitable terms. We have not always succeeded in this effort but our deviations have not been typical.

It is, in fact, difficult to understand the decisions on Indian title or to appreciate their scope and their limitations if one views the history of American land settlement as a history of wholesale robbery."

The quotation is from The Legal Conscience: Selected Papers Of Felix S Cohen,1960.”
Felix S. Cohen, The Legal Conscience: Selected Papers of Felix S. Cohen

A.D. Aliwat
“The poor Indians that sold the isle of Manhattan for twenty-four bucks are the only real native New Yorkers.”
A.D. Aliwat, In Limbo

Ken Kesey
“If they want to buy fish they buy them back at the highway; they don’t come to the village because they probably think we still scalp people and burn them around a post. They don’t know some of our people are lawyers in Portland, probably wouldn’t believe it if I told them. In fact, one of my uncles became a real lawyer and Papa says he did it purely to prove he could, when he’d rather poke salmon in the fall than anything. Papa says if you don’t watch it people will force you one way or the other, into doing what they think you should do, or into just being mule-stubborn and doing the opposite out of spite.”
Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Charles Alexander Eastman
“The worship of the “Great Mystery” was silent, solitary, free from all self-seeking. It was silent, because all speech is of necessity feeble and imperfect; therefore the souls of my ancestors ascended to God in wordless adoration. It was solitary, because they believed that He is nearer to us in solitude, and there were no priests authorized to come between a man and his Maker. None might exhort or confess or in any way meddle with the religious experience of another. Among us all men were created sons of God and stood erect, as conscious of their divinity. Our faith might not be formulated in creeds, nor forced upon any who were unwilling to receive it; hence there was no preaching, proselyting, nor persecution, neither were there any scoffers or atheists.”
Charles Alexander Eastman, The Soul of the Indian

Henry David Thoreau
“I believed that the woods were not tenantless, but choke-full of honest spirits as good as myself any day– not an empty chamber in which chemistry was left to work alone, but an inhabited house. It suggested, too, that the same experience always gives birth to the same sort of belief or religion. One revelation has been made to the Indian, another to the white man. I have much to learn of the Indian, nothing of the missionary. I am not sure but all that would tempt me to teach the Indian my religion would be his promise to teach me his. Long enough I had heard of irrelevant things; now at length I was glad to make acquaintance with the light that dwells in rotten wood.”
Henry David Thoreau, Canoeing in the Wilderness

Zora Neale Hurston
“Indians don't know much uh nothin', tuh tell de truth. Else dey'd own dis country still.”
Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

Nancy Rubin Stuart
“The aborigines were a source of wonder and amusement to be alternately fed, clothed, teased, educated, and petted.”
Nancy Rubin Stuart, Isabella of Castile: The First Renaissance Queen

“A land acknowledgement or territorial acknowledgement is a formal statement, often spoken at the beginning of a public event, that it is taking place on land originally inhabited by or belonging to indigenous people.

In Canada, land acknowledgements became popular after the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission report (which argued that the country's Indian residential school system had amounted to cultural genocide) and the election of liberal prime minister Justin Trudeau that same year.[2] By 2019, they were a regular practice at events including National Hockey League games, ballet performances and parliament meetings. Critics of land acknowledgements have described them as excesses of political correctness or expressed concerns that they amount to empty gestures that avoid actually addressing the issues of indigenous communities. Ensuring the factual accuracy of acknowledgments can be difficult due to problems like conflicting land claims or unrecorded land exchanges between indigenous groups.

In the United States, the practice of land acknowledgements has been described as "catching on" as of 2020.”
Wikipedia: Land Acknowlegement

Anton Treuer
“Here in the United States, very little effort has been made to voice formal apologies, make reparations, or pass political mandates about education. Yet this country was founded in part by genocidal policies directed at Native Americans and the enslavement of Black people. Both of these things are morally repugnant. Still I love my country. In fact, it is because I love my country that I want to make sure the mistakes of our past do not get repeated. We cannot afford to cover over the dark chapters of our history, as we have for decades upon decades. It is time for that to stop.”
Anton Treuer, Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask: Young Readers Edition

“If Indians are in the area you settle in, you will have no trouble with them unless you get out of line. Indians are one of the easiest race types of all to get along with. Although solid of face they have a great sense of humor and enjoy real comedy immensely. A friend of mine near Gallup, New Mexico had a store that he called John's Teepee that sold Indian souvenirs and curios. He up a number of large roadside signs in Navajo territory. They read: GENUINE BEADED BELTS AND NAVAJO RUGS AT JOHN'S TEEPEE 1 MILE. The first night the signs were up the Indians painted the right side of the T in teepee in a half circle making the T into a P. In northern Arizona through the woodland areas the state put up road signs reading LOOK OUT FOR THE DEER. The Indians quickly painted a line half way through the D in deer making the D into a B. To me this kind of humor is really funny, a lot funnier than the form jokes written by television writers and memorized by so-called television "Adlib" comedians who are no funnier than their ability to memorize a script.”
George Leonard Herter, How to Get out of the Rat Race and Live on $10 a Month

“I could never forget how excited I felt, as a student of anthropology in the early 1990s, to be entering a field that promised to mitigate racism in America. I fantasized about working alongside Indians to pursue deeper understandings of our colonial-era pasts as we gleefully dismantled whatever ideological machinery prevented us from truly seeing one another in the present. It was a noble and poetic vision which carried a generic promise of "making a difference" in the world. What I failed to foresee was that ideological machinery being ironically maintained by a morally elite stratum of antiquarians, archaeologists, and Indians in the twenty-first century.”
Timothy H. Ives, Stones of Contention

“There is no shortage of [American] Indians today, only an apparent surplus of miseducated settler colonists.”
Timothy H. Ives, Stones of Contention

“The remarkable idea of a privileged socioracial group benevolently lifting a less privileged one should always be met with remarkable skepticism. If this were so when the Massachusetts Bay Colony put the words "Come Over and Help Us" in an Indian's mouth, perhaps things would be different today.”
Timothy H. Ives, Stones of Contention

“It would be reassuring to presume that publicly casting oneself as a "good guy," specifically in regard to [American] Indians, is a harmless action without complicated side effects, as if society is not largely a system of complicated side effects set into motion by the actions of individuals.”
Timothy H. Ives, Stones of Contention

Kenneth Meadows
“The flow of energy moves from the unseen - the non-physical - to the seen, to that which appears; from the realm of that which is not yet manifest to the realm of appearance; from what the American Indian call the 'Nagual' to the 'Tonal', to the everyday world of 'ordinary' existence.”
Kenneth Meadows, Earth Medicine: Revealing Hidden Teachings of the Native American Medicine Wheel

Kenneth Meadows
“The eagle is a bird that flies higher than any other, so the Indian considered it to be 'closer to the sky'. To the Indian, the sky was synonymous with spiritual things [like] principles. [When close to the sky,] from that elevated viewpoint [you are] detatched from the Earth and material things.

The eagle is also attributed with remarkable vision. It can see clearly over great distances and identify small creature and objects from a long way off. So the eagle is associated with far-sightedness and the ability to look ahead. From an elevated viewpoint [you are] able to see more clearly where things on Earth fitted together.

Since the eagle is able to look directly into the un without being blinded by its intensity, this ability indicates [the] attribution of illumination, which comes to the mind through spiritual vision or the ability to see into the essence or spirit of things.”
Kenneth Meadows, Earth Medicine: Revealing Hidden Teachings of the Native American Medicine Wheel

Kenneth Meadows
“The Indian regarded the human being as a 'divine mortal', or a 'divine physical being'. Indeed, I have had it explained to me that the prefix "hu" in some tongues meant 'divine', and "man" of course, is mortal. So a human being is a divine mortal being - a dual being existing in the realms of both spirit and matter; one spiritual, the other physical; one eternal, the other temporal.”
Kenneth Meadows, Earth Medicine: Revealing Hidden Teachings of the Native American Medicine Wheel