Native American Quotes – Great Words From Great Americans

Luther Standing Bear, Dakota chief 1891

Luther Standing Bear, Dakota chief 1891. Click for prints & products.

“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 conducting 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, Oglala Sioux Chief

“For an important marriage the chief precided, 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], Salish

“Of all the animals the horse is the best friend of the Indian, for without it he could not go on long journeys. A horse is the Indian’s most valuable piece of property. If an Indian wishes to gain something, he promises that if the horse will help him he will paint it with native dye, that all may see that help has come to him through the aid of his horse.” -Brave Buffalo (late 19th century) Teton Sioux medicine man

“It’s our stuff. We made it and we know best how to use it and care for it. And now we’re going to get it back.” – John Pretty on Top, Crow

“The old Indian teaching was that is is wrong to tear loose from its place on the earth anything that may be growing there. It may be cut off, but it should not be uprooted. The trees and the grass have spirits. Whatever one of such growth 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

“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 encouraged not to be lazy and to grow straight like a sapling.” -Mourning Dove [Christine Quintasket] (1888-1936) Salish

“Out of the Indian approach to life there came a great freedom, an intense and absorbing respect for life, enriching faith in a Supreme Power, and principles of truth, honesty, generosity, equity, and brotherhood as a guide to mundane relations.” – Luther Standing Bear, Oglala Sioux Chief

“The life of an Indian is like the wings of the air. That is why you notice the hawk knows how to get his prey. The Indian is like that. The hawk swoops down on its prey; so does the Indian. In his lament he is like an animal. For instance, the coyote is sly; so is the Indian. The eagle is the same. That is why the Indian is always feathered up; he is a relative to the wings of the air.” – Black Elk, Oglala Sioux Holy Man

“One does not sell the land people walk on.”  – Crazy Horse, September 23, 1875

Native American Symbols, Totems

Native American Symbols, Totems & Their Meanings – Digital Download

“The Earth is the Mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it. You might as well expect the river to run backward as that any man who was born a free man should be contented when penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases.” – Chief JosephNez Perce

“I love this land and the buffalo and will not part with it. I want you to understand well what I say. Write it on paper…I hear a great deal of good talk from the gentlemen the Great Father sends us, but they never do what they say. I don’t want any of the medicine lodges (schools and churches) within the country. I want the children raised as I was. – SatantaKiowa Chief

“I was warmed by the sun, rocked by the winds and sheltered by the trees as other Indian babes. I can go everywhere with a good feeling.” – Geronimo[Goyathlay], Chiracahua Apache

“Grown men can learn from very little children for the hearts of the little children are pure. Therefore, the Great Spirit may show to them many things which older people miss.” – Black Elk,  Oglala Sioux Holy Man

“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], Chiracahua Apache

“I want my people to stay with me here. All the dead men will come to life again. Their spirits will come to their bodies again. We must wait here in the homes of our fathers and be ready to meet them in the bosom of our mother.” –  Wovoka, Paiute

Chief Satanta of the Kiowa tribe.

Chief Satanta of the Kiowa tribe.

“I am a great chief among my people. If you kill me, it will be like a spark on the prairie. It will make a big fire – a terrible fire!” – Kiowa Chief Satanta.

“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, Santee-Yanktonai Sioux

“Soon there will come from the rising sun a different kind of man from any have yet seen, who will bring with them a book and will teach you everything.” – Spokan Prophet

“We shall live again; we shall live again.” – Comanche Ghost Dance Song