Notable Quotes

The First Peace

The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us. — Black Elk

The Great Spirit

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. — Big Thunder (Bedagi), Wabanaki Algonquin

Laws

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 (Kah-ge-ga-bowh) Ojibwa Chief

Traditions

The traditions of our people are handed down from father to son. The Chief is considered to be the most learned, and the leader of the tribe. The Doctor, however, is thought to have more inspiration. He is supposed to be in communion with spirits... He cures the sick by the laying of hands, and payers and incantations and heavenly songs. He infuses new life into the patient, and performs most wonderful feats of skill in his practice.... He clothes himself in the skins of young innocent animals, such as the fawn, and decorated himself with the plumage of harmless birds, such as the dove and hummingbird ... — Sarah Winnemucca, Paiute

Wakan-Tanka

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

While I Stood There

And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell, and I understood more than I saw. For I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being. — Black Elk

When ...

When all the trees have been cut down,
when all the animals have been hunted,
when all the waters are polluted,
when all the air is unsafe to breathe,
only then will you discover you cannot eat money.

— Cree Prophecy
 

Civilization

I do not think the measure of a civilization  is how tall its buildings of concrete are, but rather how well its people have learned to relate to their environment and fellow man. — Sun Bear, Chippewa

Children

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

The Truth

It does not require many words to speak the truth. — Chief Joseph

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