Native American Quotes – Great Words From Great Americans

A warrior who had more than he needed would make a feast. He went around and invited the old and needy….The man who would 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, Oglala Sioux Holy Man

“In 1868, men came out and brought papers. We could not read them and they did not tell us truly what was in them. We thought the treaty was to remove the forts and for us to cease from fighting. But they wanted to send us traders on the Missouri, but we wanted traders where we were. When I reached Washington, the Great Father explained to me that the interpreters had deceived me. All I want is right and just.” – Chief Red Cloud(Makhipiya-Luta) Sioux Chief, April, 1870

From Wakan-Tanka, the Great Mystery, comes all power. It is from Wakan-Tanka that the holy man has wisdom and the power to heal and make holy charms. Man knows that all healing plants are given by Wakan-Tanka, therefore they are holy. So too is the buffalo holy, because it is the gift of Wakan-Tanka. – Flat-Iron (Maza Blaska Oglala Sioux Chief

“Will we let ourselves be destroyed in our turn without a struggle, give up our homes, our country bequeathed to us by the Great Spirit, the graves of our dead and everything that is dear and sacred to us? I know you will cry with me, ‘Never! Never!'” – Chief Tecumseh, Shawnee

“Traditional people of Indian nations have interpreted the two roads that face the light-skinned race as the road to technology and the road to spirituality. We feel that the road to technology…. has led modern society to a damaged and seared earth. Could it be that the road to technology represents a rush to destruction, and that the road to spirituality represents the slower path that the traditional native people have traveled and are now seeking again? The earth is not scorched on this trail. The grass is still growing there.”  – William Commanda, Mamiwinini, Canada, 1991

“I hope the Great Heavenly Father, who will look down upon us, will give all the tribes His blessing, that we may go forth in peace, and live in peace all our days, and that He will look down upon our children and finally lift us far above the earth; and that our Heavenly Father will look upon our children as His children, that all the tribes may be His children, and as we shake hands to-day upon this broad plain, we may forever live in peace.” – Chief Red Cloud (Makhipiya-Luta) Sioux Chief

Great Spirit, Great Spirit, my Grandfather, all over the earth the faces of living things are all alike…Look upon these faces of children without number and with children in their arms, that they may face the winds and walk the good road to the day of the quiet. – Black Elk,  Oglala Sioux Holy Man

“My father, you have made promises to me and to my children. If the promises had been made by a person of no standing, I should not be surprised to see his promises fail. But you, who are so great in riches and power; I am astonished that I do not see your promises fulfilled!” – Shinguaconse (“Little Pine”)

“We know our lands have now become more valuable. The white people think we do not know their value; but we know that the land is everlasting, and the few goods we receive for it are soon worn out and gone.” – Canassatego

“In the beginning of all things, wisdom and knowledge were with the animals, for Tirawa, the One Above, did not speak directly to man. He sent certain animals to tell men that he showed himself through the beast, and that from them, and from the stars and the sun and moon should man learn.. all things tell of Tirawa. ” – Eagle Chief (Letakos-Lesa) Pawnee

“My Father: a long time has passed since first we came upon our lands; and our people have all sunk into their graves. They had sense. We are all young and foolish, and do not wish to do anything that they would not approve, were they living. We are fearful we shall offend their spirits if we sell our lands; and we are fearful we shall offend you if we do not sell them. This has caused us great perplexity of thought, because we have counselled among ourselves, and do not know how we can part with our lands.” – Metea, a Potowatami Chief of the Illinois Nation

Native Plants - Native Healing

Native Plants – Native Healing. From our Book Shelf at Legends’ General Store

“You ask me to plow the ground. Shall I take a knife and tear my mother’s bosom? Then when I die she will not take me to her bosom to rest. — Wovoka, Paiute

You have noticed that everything as Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round….. The Sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nest in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours…. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves. – Black Elk, Oglala Sioux Holy Man

Compiled and edited by Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated November 2018.

Also See:

Native American Proverbs & Wisdom

Legends, Myths & Tales of Native Americans

Native American Photo Galleries

Totems & Their Meanings