Native American Wisdom Quotes

Quotes tagged as "native-american-wisdom" (showing 1-30 of 76)
Vine Deloria Jr.
“Religion is for people who're afraid of going to hell. Spirituality is for those who've already been there.”
Vine Deloria Jr.

Chief Joseph
“I believe much trouble and blood would be saved if we opened our hearts more.”
Chief Joseph

Patricia Briggs
“His grandfather had often told him that he tried too hard to move trees when a wiser man would walk around them.”
Patricia Briggs, Hunting Ground

Charles Alexander Eastman
“It was our belief that the love of possessions is a weakness to be overcome. . . . Children must early learn the beauty of generosity. They are taught to give what they prize most, that they may taste the happiness of giving. . . . The Indians in their simplicity literally give away all that they have—to relatives, to guests of other tribes or clans, but above all to the poor and the aged, from whom they can hope for no return.”
Charles Alexander Eastman (Ohiyesa)

Barbara Kingsolver
“So you make this deal with the gods. You do these dances and they'll send rain and good crops and the whole works? And nothing bad will ever happen. Right.' Prayer had always struck me as more or less a glorified attempt at a business transaction. A rain dance even more so.
I thought I might finally have offended Loyd past the point of no return, like stealing the lobster from frozen foods that time, to get myself fired. But Loyd was just thinking. After a minute he said, 'No, it's not like that. It's not making a deal, bad things can still happen, but you want to try not to cause them to happen. It has to do with keeping things in balance.'
In balance.'
Really, it's like the spirits have made a deal with us.'
And what is the deal?' I asked.
We're on our own. The spirits have been good enough to let us live here and use the utilities, and we're saying: We know how nice you're being. We appreciate the rain, we appreciate the sun, we appreciate the deer we took. Sorry if we messed up anything. You've gone to a lot of trouble, and we'll try to be good guests.'
Like a note you'd send somebody after you stayed in their house?'
Exactly like that. 'Thanks for letting me sleep on your couch. I took some beer out of the refrigerator, and I broke a coffee cup. Sorry, I hope it wasn't your favorite one.”
Barbara Kingsolver

“Before our white brothers arrived to make us civilized men,we didn't have any kind of prison. Because of this, we had no delinquents. We had no locks nor keys and therefore among us there were no thieves. When someone was so poor that he couldn't afford a horse, a tent or a blanket, he would, in that case, receive it all as a gift. We were too uncivilized to give great importance to private property. We didn't know any kind of money and consequently, the value of a human being was not determined by his wealth. We had no written laws laid down, no lawyers, no politicians, therefore we were not able to cheat and swindle one another. We were really in bad shape before the white men arrived and I don't know how to explain how we were able to manage without these fundamental things that (so they tell us) are so necessary for a civilized society.”
Lame Deer

N. Scott Momaday
“To encounter the sacred is to be alive at the deepest center of human existence. Sacred places are the truest definitions of the earth; they stand for the earth immediately and forever; they are its flags and shields. If you would know the earth for what it really is, learn it through its sacred places. At Devil’s Tower or Canyon de Chelly or the Cahokia Mounds, you touch the pulse of the living planet; you feel its breath upon you. You become one with a spirit that pervades geologic time and space.”
N. Scott Momaday

“There is a power in nature that man has ignored. And the result has been heartache and pain.”
Anasazi Foundation, The Seven Paths: Changing One's Way of Walking in the World

“I have learned that the point of life's walk is not where or how far I move my feet but how I am moved in my heart.”
Anasazi Foundation, The Seven Paths: Changing One's Way of Walking in the World

Kathleen O'Neal Gear
“Life moved, as inconstant and fickle as Wind Baby, frolicking, sleeping, weeping, but never truly still. Never solid or finished. Always like water flowing from one place to the next. Seed and fruit. Rain and drought, everything traveled in a gigantic circle, an eternal process of becoming something new. But we rarely saw it. Humans tended to see only frozen moments, not the flow of things.”
Kathleen O'Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear, Bone Walker

John (Fire) Lame Deer
“Listen to the air. You can hear it, feel it, smell it, taste it. Woniya wakan—the holy air—which renews all by its breath. Woniya, woniya wakan—spirit, life, breath, renewal—it means all that. Woniya—we sit together, don’t touch,
but something is there; we feel it between us, as a presence. A good way to start thinking about nature, talk about it. Rather talk to it, talk to the rivers, to the lakes, to the winds as to our relatives.”
John (Fire) Lame Deer, Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions

“The most beautiful thing in the world is a heart that is changing.”
Anasazi Foundation, The Seven Paths: Changing One's Way of Walking in the World

“Unfortunately, modern man has become so focused on harnessing nature's resources that he has forgotten how to learn from them. If you let them, however, the elements of nature will teach you as they have taught me.”
Anasazi Foundation, The Seven Paths: Changing One's Way of Walking in the World

“Whatever you do to the animals, you do to yourself.”
Ben Mikaelsen, Touching Spirit Bear

Frédéric Gros
“The Native Americans, whose wisdom Thoreau admired, regarded the Earth itself as a sacred source of energy. To stretch out on it brought repose, to sit on the ground ensured greater wisdom in councils, to walk in contact with its gravity gave strength and endurance. The Earth was an inexhaustible well of strength: because it was the original Mother, the feeder, but also because it enclosed in its bosom all the dead ancestors. It was the element in which transmission took place. Thus, instead of stretching their hands skyward to implore the mercy of celestial divinities, American Indians preferred to walk barefoot on the Earth: The Lakota was a true Naturist – a lover of Nature. He loved the earth and all things of the earth, the attachment growing with age. The old people came literally to love the soil and they sat or reclined on the ground with a feeling of being close to a mothering power. It was good for the skin to touch the earth and the old people liked to remove their moccasins and walk with bare feet on the sacred earth. Their tipis were built upon the earth and their altars were made of earth. The birds that flew in the air came to rest on the earth and it was the final abiding place of all things that lived and grew. The soil was soothing, strengthening, cleansing and healing. That is why the old Indian still sits upon the earth instead of propping himself up and away from its life-giving forces. For him, to sit or lie upon the ground is to be able to think more deeply and to feel more keenly; he can see more clearly into the mysteries of life and come closer in kinship to other lives about him. Walking, by virtue of having the earth’s support, feeling its gravity, resting on it with every step, is very like a continuous breathing in of energy. But the earth’s force is not transmitted only in the manner of a radiation climbing through the legs. It is also through the coincidence of circulations: walking is movement, the heart beats more strongly, with a more ample beat, the blood circulates faster and more powerfully than when the body is at rest. And the earth’s rhythms draw that along, they echo and respond to each other. A last source of energy, after the heart and the Earth, is landscapes. They summon the walker and make him at home: the hills, the colours, the trees all confirm it. The charm of a twisting path among hills, the beauty of vine fields in autumn, like purple and gold scarves, the silvery glitter of olive leaves against a defining summer sky, the immensity of perfectly sliced glaciers … all these things support, transport and nourish us.”
Frédéric Gros, A Philosophy of Walking

“Whether we walk among our people or alone among the hills, happiness in life's walking depends on how we feel about others in our hearts.”
Anasazi Foundation, The Seven Paths: Changing One's Way of Walking in the World

Dee Brown
“Another Chief remembered that since the Great Father promised them that they would never be moved they had been moved five times. "I think you had better put the Indians on wheels," he said sardonically, "and you can run them about whenever you wish.”
Dee Brown, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West

Larry McMurtry
“The thing that Buffalo Hump was most grateful for, as he rode into the emptiness, was the knowledge that in the years of his youth and manhood he had drawn the lifeblood of so many enemies. He had been a great killer; it was his way and the way of his people; no one in his tribe had killed so often and so well. The killings were good to remember, as he rode his old horse deeper into the llano, away from all the places where people came.”
Larry McMurtry, Comanche Moon

“In my opinion, it was chiefly owing to their deep contemplation in their silent retreats in the days of youth that the old Indian orators acquired the habit of carefully arranging their thoughts.

They listened to the warbling of birds and noted the grandeur and the beauties of the forest. The majestic clouds—which appear like mountains of granite floating in the air—the golden tints of a summer evening sky, and the changes of nature, possessed a mysterious significance.

All of this combined to furnish ample matter for reflection to the contemplating youth.”
Francis Assikinack (Blackbird)

Linda Hogan
“We are looking for a tongue that speaks with reverence for life, searching for an ecology of mind. Without it, we have no home, no place of our own within the creation. It is not only the vocabulary of science we desire. We want a language of that different yield. A yield rich as the harvests of the earth, a yield that returns us to our own sacredness, to a self-love and resort that will carry out to others.”
Linda Hogan, Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World

Linda Hogan
“As for me, I have a choice between honoring that dark life I've seen so many years moving in the junipers, or of walking away and going on with my own human busyness. There is always that choice for humans.”
Linda Hogan

Linda Hogan
“What a strange alchemy we have worked, turning earth around to destroy itself, using earth's own elements to wound it.”
Linda Hogan, Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World

Linda Hogan
“Caretaking is the utmost spiritual and physical responsibility of our time, and perhaps that stewardship is finally our place in the web of life, our work, the solution to the mystery that we are. There are already so many holes in the universe that will never again be filled, and each of them forces us to question why we permitted such loss, such tearing away at the fabric of life, and how we will live with our planet in the future.”
Linda Hogan, Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World

Linda Hogan
“There is no real aloneness. There is solitude and the nurturing silence that is relationship with ourselves, but even then we are part of something larger.”
Linda Hogan, Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World

“I speak of the Creator. Are you surprised by my candor? In a world that has killed the sacred, mention of it can seem shocking, even foolhardy. But how foolhardy it is to kill the sacred! And how shocking to think that we could! For there is always a light that walks forward.”
Anasazi Foundation, The Seven Paths: Changing One's Way of Walking in the World

“The dawns I have felt in my soul testify that I am known by the Giver of light. To walk forward, I need only walk where he shows me.”
Anasazi Foundation, The Seven Paths: Changing One's Way of Walking in the World

Michael A. Ferro
“You know, your grandmother once told me something that the Native Americans say about dogs with different-colored eyes: they are extraordinary, for they have the ability to look upon both heaven and hell.”
Michael A. Ferro, TITLE 13: A Novel

“AN INDIAN FAREWELL
Until we meet again may the Great Spirit
make sunrise in your heart and may your
moccasins make tracks in many snows yet to come.”
Herb Walker, Oklahoma Cookin'

Amy Hill Hearth
“[My grandmother Mamie] used to say, 'Marion, if you don't feel right, if you don't feel good, just go outside. Take care of your flower bed and forget about everything else. If it's wintertime, go dig yourself a path in the snow whether you need it or not. You don't have to think too much to plant anything or scoop snow, and your mind can go back and figure out what's wrong.' I still take her advice to this day. (From Marion "Strong Medicine" Gould)”
Amy Hill Hearth, Strong Medicine Speaks: A Native American Elder Has Her Say

L.A. Banks
“Respect for the environment, and respect for what was naturally occurring in nature: that was the bedrock of all original peoples. Harmony, coexistence, not conquest and conquer.”
L.A. Banks, Bad Blood

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