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Wisdom From the Elders

This page is dedicated to sharing some of the wisdom passed down to us by our elders by way of quotes. Please email any you would like to share to the site moderator.

“O’ Great Spirit help me always to speak the truth quietly, to listen with an open mind when others speak, and to remember the peace that may be found in silence.”

Cherokee Prayer

“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.”

Crowfoot, Blackfoot warrior and orator 1826-1890

“We never did the white man any harm; we don’t intend to… we are willing to be friends with the white man.”

Tall Bull to General Winfield Scott Hancock, March 1867

“Kindness is to one’s will to guard one’s speech and conduct so as not to injure anyone.”

Oral traditional teaching of the Omaha.

“The earth has received the embrace of the sun and we shall see the results of that love.”

Sitting Bull, 1831-1890

“Everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian Theory of existence.”

Mourning Dove, Salish 1888-1936

“It is well to be good to women in the strength of our manhood because we must sit under their hands at both ends of our lives.”

He Dog, Oglala Sioux

“Civilization has been thrust upon me… and it has not added one whit to my love for truth, honesty, and generosity.”

Luther Standing Bear, Oglala Sioux 1868-1937

“The Great Spirit is in all things, he is in the air we breathe. The Great Spirit is our father, but the Earth is our mother. She nourishes us, that which we put into the ground she returns to us.

” Bedagi (Big Thunder)

“I have already agreed to be there and that is the same as if I gave you my head and my heart… I won’t try to take back what I have said. I will do as I told you I would.”

Western Apache tribal member

“Honor the sacred. Honor the Earth- our Mother. Honor the Elders. Honor all with whom we share the Earth: Four legged, two legged, winged ones, swimmers, crawlers, plant and rock people. Walk in balance and beauty.”

Anonymous Native American Elder

“Why do you take by force what you could obtain by love?”

Wahunsonacock (Powhatan)

“Let us put our minds together and see what life will make for our children.”

Sitting Bull

“I cannot think that we are useless or God would not have created us.”

Goyathlay ( Geronimo)

“We will bury the tomahawk in the Earth.”

Sauk adage meant as a pledge of peace.

“We preferred hunting to a life of idleness on our reservation. At times we did not get enough to eat and we were not allowed to hunt. All we wanted was peace and to be let alone… I was not allowed to remain quiet. I was tired of fighting… I have spoken.”

Crazy Horse, on his deathbed.

”There is a dignity about the social intercourse of old Indians which reminds me of a stroll through a winter forest.”

Frederick Remington

“A people without a history is like wind on the buffalo grass.”

Teton Sioux Proverb

“The Great Spirit… made it to always change… sunlight to play… night to sleep… everything good.”

Flying Hawk, Ogalala Clan

“I’m working for the Creation. I refuse to take part in its destruction.”

Leon Shanandoah

“I was born in nature’s wide domain! The trees were all that sheltered my infant limbs, the blue heavens all that covered me. I am one of nature’s children. I have always admired her.”

George Copway

“There is no quiet place in the white man’s cities, no place to bear the leaves of spring or the rustle of insect wings… the clatter only seems to insult the ears.”

Chief Seattle

“The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it.”

Chief Joseph

“Lose your temper and you lose a friend; lie and you lose yourself.”

Hopi Adage

“What is gained from our inner nature is exact knowledge, which gives us a far reaching outlook over the earth. The many powers of inner nature are hidden in everyone, and these are identified with Wakan-Tanka.”

Blue Thunder, Teton Sioux

“I am not a child. I can think for myself. No man can think for me.”

Chief Joseph

“Yigaquu Osaniyu admanvto adadoliigi nigohilvi nasquv utloyasdi nibi. (May the Great Spirit’s blessings always be with you.)”

Cherokee Adage

“To clothe a man falsely is only to distress his spirit…”

Luther Standing Bear

“The reason Wakan Tanka does not make 2 birds… or two human beings exactly alike is because each is placed here… to be an independent individual to rely on himself.”

Okute

“You must stop your ears whenever you are asked to sign a treaty selling your home… This country holds your father’s body. Never sell the bones of your father and your mother.”

Old Chief Joseph, Nez Perce

“Great Spirit, you lived first, and you are older than all need.”

Black Elk

“The ground on which we stand is sacred ground. It is the blood of our ancestors.”

Chief Plenty Coups, Crow

“Let the young men of this nation remember that idleness leads to poverty. Industry is honorable and leads to contentment.”

Chief John Ross

“Do right always. It will give you satisfaction in life.”

Wovoka

“We do not want riches, we want peace and love.”

Red Cloud

“The old Lakota was wise. He knew that man’s heart away from nature becomes hard."

Luther Standing Bear

“We never did the white man any harm; we don’t intend to… we are willing to be friends with the white man.”

Tall Bull to General Winfield Scott Hancock, March 1867

“Kindness is to one’s will to guard one’s speech and conduct so as not to injure anyone.”

Oral traditional teaching of the Omaha.

“The earth has received the embrace of the sun and we shall see the results of that love.”

Sitting Bull, 1831-1890

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