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Native American Wisdom
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Native American I have seen that in any great undertaking it is not enough for a man to depend simply upon himself.

Lone Man (Isna La-wica) (late 19th century): Teton Sioux

Among the indians there have been no written laws. Customs handed down from generation to generation have been the only laws to guide them. Every one might act different from what was considered right did he choose to do so, but such acts would bring upon him the censure of the Nation ... This fear of the Nation's censure acted as a mighty band, binding all in one social honorable compact.

George Copway (Kab-ge-ga-gah-bowh) (1818-1863): Ojibwa chief

Children were encouraged to develop strict discipline and a high regard for sharing. When a girl picked her first berries and dug her first roots, they were given away to an elder so she would share her future success. When a child carried water for the home, an elder would give compliments, pretending to taste meat in water carried by a boy or berries in that of a girl. The child was encourage not to be lazy and to grow straight like a sapling.

Mourning Dove (Christine Quintasket) (1888-1936): Salish

Conversation was never begun at once, nor in a hurried manner. No one was quick with a question, no matter how important, and no one was pressed for an answer. A pause giving time for thought was the truly courteous way of beginning and conduction a conversation. Silence was meaningful with the Lakota, and his granting a space of silence to the speech-maker and his own moment of silence before talking was done in the practice of true politeness and regard for the rule that, "thought comes before speech".

Luther Standing Bear (1868?-1939): Oglala Sioux Chief

To "make medicine" is to engage upon a special period of fasting, thanksgiving, prayer and self denial, even of self-torture. The procedure is entirely a devotional exercise. The purpose is to subdue the passions of the flesh and to improve the spiritual self. The bodily abstinence and the mental concentration upon lofty thoughts cleanses both the body and the soul and puts them into or keeps them in health. Then the individual mind gets closer toward conformity with the mind of the Great Medicine above us.

Wooden Leg (late 19th century): Cheyenne

When a child my mother taught me the legends of our people; taught me of the sun and sky, the moon and stars, the clouds and storms. She also taught me to kneel and pray to Usen for strength, health, wisdom and protection. We never prayed against any person, but if we had aught against any individual we ourselves took vengeance. We were taught that Usen does not care for the petty quarrels of men.

Geronimo (Goyathlay) (1829-1909): Chiricahua Apache Chief

We are black, yet if we cut ourselves, the blood will be red -- and so with the whites it is the same, though their skin be white ... I am of another nation, when I speak you do not understand me. When you speak, I do not understand you.

Spokan Gary (1811-1892): Middle Spokan Chief

For an important marriage the chief president, aided by his wife. He passed a pipe around the room so each could share a smoke in common. In this way families were publicly united to banish any past or future disagreements and thus stood as "one united". The chief then gave the couple an oration of his advice, pointing out the good characteristics of each, and then offered his congratulations to them for a happy future.

Mourning Dove (Christine Quintasket) (1888-1936): Salish

The soil you see is not ordinary soil -- it is the dust of the blood, the flesh, and bones of our ancestors ... You will have to dig down through the surface before you can find nature's earth, as the upper portion is Crow. The land, as it is, is my blood and my dead; it is consecrated.

Shes-his (late 19th century): Reno Crow

I have noticed in my life that all men have a liking for some special animal, tree, plant, or spot of earth. If men would pay more attention for these preferences and seek what is best to do in order to make themselves worthy of that toward which they are so attracted, they might have dreams which would purify their lives. Let a man decide upon his favorite animal and make a study of it, learning its innocent ways. Let him learn to understand its sounds and motions. The animals want to communicate with man, but Wakantanka does not intend they shall do so directly -- man must do the greater part in securing an understanding

Brave Buffalo (late 19th century): Teton Sioux (medicine man)

When we go hunting, it is not our arrow that kills the moose, however powerful the bow; it is nature that kills him

Big Thunder (Bedagi) (late 19th century): Wabanaki Algonquin

The old Indian teaching was that it is wrong to tear loose from its place on the earth anything that may be growing there. It may b e cut off, but it should not be uprooted. The trees and the grass have spirits. Whatever one of such growths may be destroyed by some good Indian, his act is done in sadness and with a prayer for forgiveness because of his necessities.

Wooden Leg (late 19th century): Cheyenne

I am going to venture that the man who sat on the ground in his tipi meditating on life and its meaning, accepting the kinship of all creature, and acknowledging unity with the universe of things was infusing into his being the true essence of civilization.

Luther Standing Bear (1868?-1939): Oglala Sioux chief

When a man does a piece of work which is admired by all we say that it is wonderful; but when we see the changes of day and night, the sun, the moon, and the stars in the sky, and the changing seasons upon the earth, with their ripening fruits, anyone must realize that it is the work of someone more powerful than man

Chased by Bears (1843-1915): Santec-Yanktonai Sioux

..... The voice of the Great Spirit is heard in the twittering of birds, the rippling of mighty waters, and the sweet breathing of flowers. If this is Paganism, then at present, at least, I am a Pagan

Gertrude Simmons Bonnin (Zitkala-Sa) (1876-1938): Dakota Sioux

I was born upon the prairie, where the wind blew free, and there was nothing to break the light of the sun I was born where there were no enclosures, and where everything drew a free breath .... I know every stream and every wood between the Rio Grande and the Arkansas I have hunted and lived over that country I lived like my fathers before me, and like them, I lived happily

Ten Bears (Parra-wa-samem) (late 19h century) Yamparethka Comanche Chief

When I was a young man I went to a medicine-man for advice concerning my future The medicine-man said: "I have not much to tell you except to help you understand this earth on which you live" "If a man is to succeed on the hunt or the warpath he must not be governed by his inclination but by an understanding of the ways of animals and of his natural surroundings, gained through close observation The earth is large, and on it live many animals The earth is under the protection of something which at times becomes visible to the eye"

Lone Man (Isna la-wic) (late 19th century) Teton Sioux

The idea of full dress in preparation for a battle comes not from a belief that it will add to the fighting ability The preparation is for death in case that should be the result of the conflict. Every Indian wants to look his best when he goes to meet the great Spirit so the dressing up is done whether in imminent danger is an oncoming battle or a sickness or injury at times of peace.

Wooden Leg (late 19th century) Cheyenne

A warrior who had more than needed would make a feast He went around and invited the old and needy The man who could thank the food some worthy old medicine man or warrior said: "look to the old, they are worthy of old age; they have seen their days and proven themselves. With the help of the Great Spirit they have attained a ripe old age. At this age the old can predict or give knowledge or wisdom whatever it is, it is so. At the end is a cane you and your family shall get to where the cane is"

Black Elk (1863-1950) Oglala Sioux holy man

There is no death .... Only a change of worlds.

Seattle (Seatlh) (1786-1866) Suquamish Chief