Native American Wisdom Quotes

Quotes tagged as "native-american-wisdom" Showing 1-30 of 92
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)

John Fire Lame Deer
“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

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

Dee Brown
“Treat all men alike.... give them all the same law. Give them all an even chance to live and grow. You might as well expect the rivers to run backward as that any man who is born a free man should be contented when penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases. We only ask an even chance to live as other men live. We ask to be recognized as men. Let me be a free man...free to travel... free to stop...free to work...free to choose my own teachers...free to follow the religion of my Fathers...free to think and talk and act for myself.”
Dee Brown, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West

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

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

“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

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

“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

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

“Attending to your own words and ideas as well as those of others is an admirable trait in any person, but a necessity in a leader.”
Jennifer Frick-Ruppert, Spirit Quest

“No man is as wise as Mother Earth. She has witnessed every human day, every human struggle, every human pain, and every human joy. For maladies of both body and spirit, the wise ones of old pointed man to the hills. For man too is of the dust and Mother Earth stands ready to nurture and heal her children.”
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

“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

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

“When we connect with our ancestors and put their wisdom into action, we are evolving our collective consciousness. We are transporting the ancient truths of our collective past and birthing them into our future. What we create out of those truths extends the wisdom of all those who have gone before us, and it provides a guide for all those who will follow.”
Sherri Mitchell Weh'na Ha'mu Kwasset

“Life is a walking, a journey. So, if life upon Mother Earth is a journey, there are two ways to walk. We can choose to walk forward or we can choose to walk backward. Forward Walking choices are rewarded with consequences that light the way to peace, happiness, joy, comfort, knowledge, and wisdom. Backward Walking choices bring to the Two-Legged beings consequences of misery despair, and darkness.”
Anasazi Foundation, The Seven Paths: Changing One's Way of Walking in the World

“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)

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

“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. If I walk far but am angry toward others as I journey, I walk nowhere. If I conquer mountains but hold grudges against others as I climb, I conquer nothing. If I see much but regard others as enemies, I see no one.”
Anasazi Foundation, The Seven Paths: Changing One's Way of Walking in the World

“The success of my journey depended on whether my heart walked forward—toward my people—instead of backward, away from them.”
Anasazi Foundation, The Seven Paths: Changing One's Way of Walking in the World

“Nature is not dumb. Humanity is dumb when we can't hear or when we forget how to communicate with nature. Nature is very much alive. Intelligent living beings and vibrant energies are all over the planet.”
Sun Bear, Walk in Balance: The Path to Healthy, Happy, Harmonious Living

“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

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

Steven Charleston
“Celebrating what we hope for together is better than fighting over what we believe separately.”
Steven Charleston, Ladder to the Light: An Indigenous Elder's Meditations on Hope and Courage

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