Native Americans Quotes

Quotes tagged as "native-americans" Showing 1-30 of 116
George Bernard Shaw
“A Native American elder once described his own inner struggles in this manner: Inside of me there are two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time. When asked which dog wins, he reflected for a moment and replied, The one I feed the most.”
George Bernard Shaw

Chief Seattle
“My people are few. They resemble the scattering trees of a storm-swept plain...There was a time when our people covered the land as the waves of a wind-ruffled sea cover its shell-paved floor, but that time long since passed away with the greatness of tribes that are now but a mournful memory.”
Chief Seattle, The Chief Seattle's Speech

Colson Whitehead
“And America, too, is a delusion, the grandest one of all. The white race believes--believes with all its heart--that it is their right to take the land. To kill Indians. Make war. Enslave their brothers. This nation shouldn't exist, if there is any justice in the world, for its foundations are murder, theft, and cruelty. Yet here we are.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad

Henry Ford
“Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government
take care of him better take a closer look at the American Indian.”
Henry Ford

Eddie Izzard
“So the American government lied to the Native Americans for many, many years, and then President Clinton lied about a relationship, and everyone was surprised! A little naïve, I feel!”
Eddie Izzard

Slavoj Žižek
“For the multiculturalist, white Anglo-Saxon Protestants are prohibited, Italians and Irish get a little respect, blacks are good, native Americans are even better. The further away we go, the more they deserve respect. This is a kind of inverted, patronising respect that puts everyone at a distance.”
Slavoj Žižek

Sherman Alexie
“That's how I do this life sometimes by making the ordinary just like magic and just like a card trick and just like a mirror and just like the disappearing. Every Indian learns how to be a magician and learns how to misdirect attention and the dark hand is always quicker than the white eye and no matter how close you get to my heart you will never find out my secrets and I'll never tell you and I'll never show you the same trick twice.
I'm traveling heavy with illusions.”
Sherman Alexie, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

Paul Rudnick
“Wait, we can not break bread with you. You have taken the land which is rightfully ours. Years from now my people will be forced to live in mobile homes on reservations. Your people will wear cardigans, and drink highballs. We will sell our bracelets by the road sides, and you will play golf, and eat hot h'ors d'ourves. My people will have pain and degradation. Your people will have stick shifts. The gods of my tribe have spoken. They said do not trust the pilgrims, especially Sarah Miller. And for all of these reasons I have decided to scalp you and burn your village to the ground.”
Paul Rudnick

Dave Barry
“Thus the white men and Native Americans were able, through the spirit of goodwill and compromise, to reach the first in what would become a long series of mutually beneficial, breached agreements that enabled the two cultures to coexist peacefully for stretches of twenty and sometimes even thirty days, after which it was usually necessary to negotiate new agreements that would be even more mutual and beneficial, until eventually the Native Americans were able to perceive the vast mutual benefits of living in rock-strewn sectors of South Dakota.”
Dave Barry, Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort of History of the United States

Jared Diamond
“It's striking that Native Americans evolved no devastating epidemic diseases to give to Europeans in return for the many devastating epidemic diseases that Indians received from the Old World.”
Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

David A. Lottes
“I decided to write the book I wanted to read”
David A. Lottes, Ouabache

Jared Diamond
“Above all, it seems to me wrongheaded and dangerous to invoke historical assumptions about environmental practices of native peoples in order to justify treating them fairly. ... By invoking this assumption [i.e., that they were/are better environmental stewards than other peoples or parts of contemporary society] to justify fair treatment of native peoples, we imply that it would be OK to mistreat them if that assumption could be refuted. In fact, the case against mistreating them isn't based on any historical assumption about their environmental practices: it's based on a moral principle, namely, that it is morally wrong for one people to dispossess, subjugate or exterminate another people.”
Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

Adam Rex
“Captain Smek himself appeared on television for an official speech to humankind.
[...] 'Noble Savages of Earth,' he said. 'Long time we have tried to live together in peace.' (It had been five months.) 'Long time have the Boov suffered under the hostileness and intolerableness of you people. With sad hearts I now concede that Boov and humans will never to exist as one.'
I remember being really excited at this point. Could I possibly be hearing right? Were the Boov about to leave? I was so stupid.
'And so now I generously grant you Human Preserves - gifts of land that will be for humans forever, never to be taken away again, now.'
[...] So that's when we Americans were given Florida. One state for three hundred million people. There were going to be some serious lines for the bathrooms.”
Adam Rex, The True Meaning of Smekday

Sherman Alexie
“But we reservation Indians don’t get to realize our dreams. We don’t get those chances. Or choices. We’re just poor. That’s all we are.

It sucks to be poor, and it sucks to feel that you somehow deserve to be poor. You start believing that you’re poor because you’re stupid and ugly. And then you start believing that you’re stupid and ugly because you’re Indian. And because you’re Indian you start believing you’re destined to be poor. It’s an ugly circle and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Poverty doesn’t give you strength or teach you lessons about perseverance. No, poverty only teaches you how to be poor.”
Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Melissa Schorr
“Rachel? my dad prompts.
Do I have to...?"
His stern expression answers my question
Fine. I'm grateful that the Native Americans are finally getting revenge on the white man for destroying their culture, by building megacasinos.”
Melissa Schorr, Goy Crazy

Benjamin Franklin
“A Swedish minister having assembled the chiefs of the Susquehanna Indians, made a sermon to them, acquainting them with the principal historical facts on which our religion is founded — such as the fall of our first parents by eating an apple, the coming of Christ to repair the mischief, his miracles and suffering, etc. When he had finished an Indian orator stood up to thank him.

‘What you have told us,’ says he, ‘is all very good. It is indeed bad to eat apples. It is better to make them all into cider. We are much obliged by your kindness in coming so far to tell us those things which you have heard from your mothers. In return, I will tell you some of those we have heard from ours.

‘In the beginning, our fathers had only the flesh of animals to subsist on, and if their hunting was unsuccessful they were starving. Two of our young hunters, having killed a deer, made a fire in the woods to boil some parts of it. When they were about to satisfy their hunger, they beheld a beautiful young woman descend from the clouds and seat herself on that hill which you see yonder among the Blue Mountains.

‘They said to each other, “It is a spirit that perhaps has smelt our broiling venison and wishes to eat of it; let us offer some to her.” They presented her with the tongue; she was pleased with the taste of it and said: “Your kindness shall be rewarded; come to this place after thirteen moons, and you will find something that will be of great benefit in nourishing you and your children to the latest generations.” They did so, and to their surprise found plants they had never seen before, but which from that ancient time have been constantly cultivated among us to our great advantage. Where her right hand had touched the ground they found maize; where her left had touched it they found kidney-beans; and where her backside had sat on it they found tobacco.’

The good missionary, disgusted with this idle tale, said: ‘What I delivered to you were sacred truths; but what you tell me is mere fable, fiction, and falsehood.’

The Indian, offended, replied: ‘My brother, it seems your friends have not done you justice in your education; they have not well instructed you in the rules of common civility. You saw that we, who understand and practise those rules, believed all your stories; why do you refuse to believe ours?”
Benjamin Franklin, Remarks Concerning the Savages

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

William T. Vollmann
“In the preface of "The Rifles"
"Another rule we followed was never kill an animal that we were not going to use for food or clothing." Barnabas Piryuaq
"Well, in those high latitudes we found such quantities of seals and walruses that we simply did not know what to do with them.There were thousands and thousands lying there; we walked among them and hit them on the head, and laughed heartily in the abundance which God had created." Jan Welzi 1933. ”
William T. Vollmann, The Rifles

William Faulkner
“When I was fifteen, a companion and I, on a dare, went into the mound one day just at sunset. We saw some of those Indians for the first time; we got directions from them and reached the top of the mound just as the sun set. We had camping equiptment with us, but we made no fire. We didn't even make down our beds. We just sat side by side on that mound until it became light enough to find our way back to the road. We didn't talk. When we looked at each other in the gray dawn, our faces were gray, too, quiet, very grave. When we reached town again, we didn't talk either. We just parted and went home and went to bed. That's what we thought, felt, about the mound. We were children, it is true, yet we were descendants of people who read books and who were, or should have been, beyond superstition and impervious to mindless fear.”
William Faulkner, Collected Stories

Ian Frazier
“Would Crazy Horse have spent this much to remodel a kitchen?”
Ian Frazier, On the Rez

Charles Frazier
“With the snow piling up outside, the warm dry cabin hidden in its fold of the mountain felt like a safe haven indeed, though it had not been such for the people who had lived there. Soldiers had found them and made the cabin trailhead to a path of exile, loss, and death. But for a while that night, it was a place that held within its walls no pain nor even a vague memory collection of pain.”
Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain

William Faulkner
“... in an even wilder part of the river's jungle of cane and gum and pin oak, there is an Indian mound. Aboriginal, it rises profoundly and darkly enigmatic, the only elevation of any kind in the wild, flat jungle of river bottom. Even to some of us - children though we were, yet we were descended to literate, town-bred people - it possessed inferences of secret and violent blood, of savage and sudden destruction, as though the yells and hatchets we associated with Indians through the hidden and seceret dime novels which we passed among ourselves were but trivial and momentary manifestations of what dark power still dwelled or lurked there, sinister, a little sardonic, like a dark and nameless beast lightly and lazily slumbering with bloody jaws...”
William Faulkner, Collected Stories

Margaret Atwood
“...the values ascribed to the Indian will depend on what the white writer feels about Nature, and America has always had mixed feelings about that. At one end of the spectrum is Thoreau, wishing to immerse himself in swamps for the positive vibrations; at the other end is Benjamin Franklin, who didn't like Nature. [p.91]”
Margaret Atwood, Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature

Sherman Alexie
“The white people always want to fight someone and they always get the dark-skinned people to do the fighting.”
Sherman Alexie, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

Jim Fergus
“For their part, the savage men appear to spend an inordinate amount of time lounging around their lodges, smoking and gossiping among themselves...so that it occurs to me that perhaps our cultures are not so different after all: the women do all the work while the men do all the talking.”
Jim Fergus

Charles Frazier
“The cabins they passed among seemed solemn in their abandonment, cramped by the watercourse and the overhanging brow of the cloudy mountain. Some of its people might yet be living, and Ada wondered how often they remembered this lonesome place, now still as a held breath. Whatever word they had called it would soon be numbered among the names of things which have not been passed down to us and are exiled from our memories. She doubted that its people, even in the last days, had ever looked ahead and imagined loss so total and so soon. they had not foreseen a near time when theirs would be another world filled with other people whose mouths would speak other words, whose sleep would be eased or troubled with other dreams, whose prayers would be offered up to other gods.”
Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain

Giles Milton
“Juet's journal frequently records how only a tiny quantity of alcohol was needed to get the Indians drunk, 'for they could not take it'; and tales of the drunkenness that greeted Hudsons' arrival persisted among the native Indians until the last century. Indeed Heckewelder claims that the name Manhattan is derived from the drunkenness that took place there, since the Indian word 'manahactanienk' means 'the island of general intoxication'.”
Giles Milton, Nathaniel's Nutmeg: How One Man's Courage Changed the Course of History

Ta-Nehisi Coates
“And by then, I well knew what would be done upon that land, how the sin of theft would be multiplied by the sin of bondage.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Water Dancer

Sebastian Junger
“No people can live more happy than the Indians did in times of peace...Their lives were a continual round of pleasures.”
Sebastian Junger, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging

Philip  Elliott
“This terrible legacy of colonization and genocide and inherited trauma has devalued us even to ourselves, destroyed our communities. Sometimes I think beyond saving . . .”
Philip Elliott, Nobody Move

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