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January 2002 


Crowfoot – Blackfoot:

  "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." 

Eagle Chief – Pawnee:

"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. All things in the world are two. In our minds we are two, good and evil. With our eyes we see two things, things that are fair and things that are ugly.... We have the right hand that strikes and makes for evil, and we have the left hand full of kindness, near the heart. One foot may lead us to an evil way, the other foot may lead us to a good. So are all things two, all two."

Mourning Dove – Salish:

"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. 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."

Sarah Winnemucca – Paiute:

"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."

Big Thunder – Wabanaki Algonquin:

"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."

Shooter – Teton Lakota:

"All birds, even those of the same species, are not alike, and it is the same with animals and with human beings. The reason WakanTanka does not make two birds, or animals, or human beings exactly alike is because each is placed here by WakanTanka to be an independent individuality and to rely upon itself."

George Copway – Ojibwa Chief:

“Among the people 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.”

Chief Plenty Coups – Crow:

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

Chief Aupumut – Mohican – 1725:

"When it comes time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home."


"A wee child toddling in a wonder world, I prefer to their dogma my excursions into the natural gardens where 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."

Crazy Horse – Lakota Sioux:

"I was hostile to the white man...We preferred hunting to a life of idleness on our reservations. 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. Soldiers the winter..and destroyed our villages. Then Long Hair (Custer) came...They said we massacred him, but he would have done the same to us. Our first impulse was to escape...but we were so hemmed in we had to fight. After that I lived in peace, but the government would not let me alone. I was not allowed to remain quiet. I was tired of fighting...They tried to confine me...and a soldier ran his bayonet into me. I have spoken.”

Sitting Bull – Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux:

"I am a red man. If the Great Spirit had desired me to be a white man he would have made me so in the first place. He put in your heart certain wishes and plans, in my heart he put other and different desires. Each man is good in his sight. It is not necessary for Eagles to be Crows. We are poor..but we are free. No white man controls our footsteps. If we must die...we die defending our rights."

Red Cloud – Oglala Sioux:

"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." I am poor and naked, but I am the chief of the nation. We do not want riches but we do want to train our children right. Riches would do us no good. We could not take them with us to the other world. We do not want riches. We want peace and love.”

David Ipinia, Yurok Artist:

"Being Indian is mainly in your heart. It's a way of walking with the earth instead of upon it. A lot of the history books talk about us Indians in the past tense, but we don't plan on going anywhere... We have lost so much, but the thing that holds us together is that we all belong to and are protectors of the earth; that's the reason for us being here.  Mother Earth is not a resource, she is an heirloom."

Chief Joseph – Nez Perce:

“The Earth was created by the assistance of the sun, and it should be left as it was. The country was made with no lines of demarcation, and it's no man's business to divide it. I see the whites all over the country gaining wealth, and I see the desire to give us lands which are worthless.  The Earth and myself are of one mind.

Perhaps you think the Creator sent you here to dispose of us as you see fit. If I thought you were sent by the creator, I might he induced to think you had a right to dispose of me.  

Do not misunderstand me; but understand me fully with reference to my affection for the land.  I never said the land was mine to do with as I choose.  The one who has a right to dispose of it is the one who created it.  

I claim a right to live on my land, and accord you the privilege to return to yours.  

Brother, we have listened to your talk coming from our father, the Great White Chief in Washington, and my people have called upon me to reply to you.  The winds which pass through these aged pines we hear the moaning of departed ghosts, and if the voice of our people could have been heard, that act would never have been done.  But alas though they stood around they could neither be seen nor heard.   Their tears fell like drops of rain.  I hear my voice in the depths of the forest but no answering voice comes back to me.   All is silent around me.   My words must therefore be few.  I can now say no more.   He is silent for he has nothing to answer when the sun goes down.”

“Our fathers gave us many laws which they had learned from their fathers.  They told us to treat all men as they treated us.  That we should never be the first to break a bargain. That it was a disgrace to tell a lie.  That we should speak only the truth. We were taught to believe that the Great Spirit sees and hears everything and that he never forgets.  This I believe and all my people believe the same.”
Chochise – Chricahua Apache:
"Wars are fought to see who owns the land, but in the end it possesses man.Who dares say he owns it- is he not buried beneath it?"
Charlotte Black Elk – Oglala Sioux:
“When you are a person who belongs to a community, you have to know who you are.  You have to know who your relatives are, and as a tribe we have to know where we came from.”
”Marriage among my people was like traveling in a canoe. The man sat in front and paddled the canoe. The woman sat in the stern but she steered.”
Cheyenne Anonymous:
"A Nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground.  Then it is done, no matter how brave its warriors nor how strong its weapons.”
Ginaly-li – Cherokee:
“Have patience.  All things change in due time.   Wishing cannot bring autumn glory or cause winter to cease.”
Hopi Annonymous:
“Lose your temper and you lose a friend; lie and you lose yourself.”
Sioux Annonymous:

“With all things and in all things, we are relatives.”

Luther Standing Bear – Teton Sioux:

Kinship with all creatures of the earth, sky and water was a real and active principle. And so close did some of the Lakotas come to their feathered and furred friends that in true brotherhood they spoke a common tongue.
The animals had rights...the right of man's protection, the right to live, the right to multiply, the right to freedom, and the right to man's indebtedness.”

Polingaysi Qoyawayma – Hopi:

We who are clay blended by the Master Potter, come from the kiln of Creation in many hues. How can people say one skin is colored, when each has its own coloration? What should it matter that one bowl is dark and the other pale, if each is of good design and serves its purpose well.”

Navajo Song:

Walk on a rainbow trail, walk on a trail of song, and all about you will be beauty.   There is a way out of every dark mist, over a rainbow trail.”

Crowfoot – Blackfoot:

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

Pueblo Blessing:

“Hold on to what is good even if it is a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe even if it is a tree which stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do even if it is a long way from here.
Hold on to life even when it is easier letting go.
Hold on to my hand even when I have gone away from you.”

Will Rogers – Cherokee:

Will Rogers once was asked: Are you an American citizen? He responded:

"Well", he drawled, "I think I am. My folks were Indian. Both my mother and father had Cherokee blood in them. (I was) born and raised in Indian Territory. 'Course we're not the Americans whose ancestors came over on the Mayflower, but we met them at the boat when they landed."

Cherokee Annonymous:

"There is no such thing as 'part-Cherokee.' Either you're Cherokee or you’re not.
It isn't the quantity of Cherokee blood in your veins that is important, but the quality of it . . . your pride in it. I have seen full-bloods who have virtually no idea of the great legacy entrusted to their care. Yet, I have seen people with as little as 1/500th blood quantum who inspire the spirits of their ancestors because they make being Cherokee a proud part of a their everyday life."

John Collier, Former Commissioner of Indian Affairs:

"They had an ancient lost reverence for the earth and its web of life.   They had what the world has lost. The world must have it back lest it die."

Gary White Deer – Chickasaw (1994):

"I think the Spirit, is the one thing we have to rely on.  It has been handed to us as a live and precious coal.  And each generation has to make that decision whether they want to blow on that coal to keep it alive or throw it away... Our language, our histories and culture are like a big ceremonial fire that's been kicked and stomped and scattered...Out in the darkness we can see those coals glowing.  But our generation, whether in tribal government or wherever we find ourselves--Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Creek, Seminole--are coal gatherers. We bring the coals back, assemble them and breathe on them again, so we can spark a flame around which we might warm ourselves."

Cheewa James – Modoc (1996):

"Learn how to withhold judgment. Learn to listen. Get in touch with your own inner self. Look at life with joy. Don't ever cry over something that cannot cry over you."

Chief Seattle – Suquamish/Duwamish (1790-1866:

"When the last red man shall have become a myth among the white men, when your children' s children think themselves alone in the field, upon the highway or in the silence of the pathless woods, they will not be alone. In all the earth there is no place dedicated to solitude. At night when the streets of your cities are silent, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful land. The white man will never be alone."

Black Elk – Oglala Sioux:

"You have noticed that everything an Indian does in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round.
In the old days all our power came to us from the sacred hoop of the nation and so long as the hoop was unbroken the people flourished.   The flowering tree was the living center of the hoop, and the circle of the four quarters nourished it.  The east gave peace and light, the south gave warmth, the west gave rain and the north with its cold and mighty wind gave strength and endurance.  This knowledge came to us from the outer world with our religion.

Everything the power of the world does is done in a circle.  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 nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle.  The moon does the same and both are round.  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.  Our teepees were round like the nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle, the nation's hoop, a nest of many nests, where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children."

“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."

Fools Crow:

“These (sacred) ceremonies do not belong to Indians alone, they can be done by all who have the right attitude...and who are honest and sincere about their beliefs in Wakan Tanka (Great Spirit) and follow the rules. Survival of the world depends on our sharing what we have, and working together. If we don't the whole world will die. First the planet, and next the people."

Lakota Instructions For Living - Passed down from White Buffalo Calf Woman:

“Friend do it this way - that is, whatever you do in life, do the very best you can with both your heart and mind. And if you you do it that way, the Power of the Universe will come to your assistance, if your heart and mind are in Unity. When one sits in the Hoop Of The People, one must be responsible because All of Creation is related. And the hurt of one is the hurt of all. And the honor of one is the honor of all. And whatever we do affects everything in the universe. If you do it that way - that is, if you truly join your heart and mind as One - whatever you ask for, that's the way it's going to be.

Speckled Snake – Creek:

“When the first white man came over the wide waters, he was but a little man…very little.  His legs were cramped by sitting long in his big boat, and he begged for a little land.  But when the white man had warmed himself at the Indian’s fire, and had filled himself with the Indian’s hominy, he became very large.”

Corn Tassel – Cherokee (1785):

“You say: Why do not the Indians till the ground and live as we do? May we not ask, why the white people do not hunt and live as we do?  The great God of Nature has given each their lands…he has stocked yours with cows, ours with bufflalo; yours with hog, ours with bear; yours with sheep, ours with deer.  He has indeed given you an advantage, in that your cattle are tame and domestic while ours are wild and demand not only a larger space for range, but art to hunt and kill them.”

Thanks, in no small part, to many Creek Indians allying themselves with General Andrew Jackson during the so-termed “Creek War”, Jackson came out with fame and glory…eventually the Presidency itself.  His Allies, however, did not fare so well as history shows in probably one of the most blatant acts of outright robbery of a people, certainly within United States history, known.  Chief Menewa was one of those to whom Jackson owed much.  Another was William McIntosh (White Stick) who was later assassinated by for betraying his tribe.  Red Stick War Chief Menewas took eight enemy bullets at the battle of Horseshoe Bend, yet managed to survive it!  It is a question to ponder though, that perhaps it would have been kinder to him had he died.  For later, he lost all his lands and his possessions to the pure greed of the “Americans” at the time, while Jackson seemed to lose his sight due, perhaps, to the elevation of his vaunted perch upon the branch of the Presidency.

Chief Menewass – Creek (1835:

“Last night I saw the sun set for the last time, and its light shine upon the tree tops and the land and the water that I am never to look upon again.”

Osceola – Seminole: 1838:

“They could not capture me except under a white flag.  They cannot hold me except with a chain.”

Red Jacket (Sagoyewatha) – Seneca:

“Your forefathers crossed the great water and landed on this island.  Their numbers were small.  We took pity on them, and they sat down among us.  We gave them corn and meant.  They gave us poison in return.”

I, personally, find an intriguing simularity to the name “Metacom” who is quoted below, and the name of an “angel/messsenger” from various scriptural types of writtings from out of the distant past.  This “angle” has also been said to have been the Biblical Enoch of the Book of Genesis, who had his named changed after “…the Lord took him away.”.  The name? Metatron.

Wampanoag War Chief Metacom:

“But little remains of my ancestors’ domain.  And I am resolved not to see the day when I have no country.”

Miantonomi – Narragansett:

“Brothers, we must be one as the English are, or we shall be destroyed.  You know our fathers had plenty of deer and skins and our plains were full of game and turkeys, and our coves and rivers were full of fish.  But, brothers, since these Englishmen have seized our country, they have cut down the grass with scythes, and the trees with axes.  Their cows and horses eat up the grass, and their hogs spoil our bed of clams; and finally we shall starve to death; therefore, I ask you, resolve to act like men.”

Sadekanaktie – Onondaga:

“You think that the Axe-Makers are the eldest in the country and the greatest in possession.  We Human Beings are the first and we are the eldest and the greatest.  These parts and countries were inhabited and trod upon by the Human Beings before there were any Axe-Makers.”

Canasatego – Onondage:

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

During the Revolutionary War, various Native American peoples fought for and with the Colonials or Great Britain.  In many respects, it was this “War of Independence” that destroyed the League of Six Nations.  Some look back into history and condemn these Native Americans for siding with Great Britain, thinking they should have sided one and all, with the Colonials.  Myself, I do not understand this reasoning; after all, in the eyes of the Native Americans of the time, they were trying to regain their “country”, with I am sure, the promises of Great Britain that no more “lands” would be taken from them.  The only fault I can find with these Native Americans of the time, is their shortsightedness in thinking that after all was said and done, that had Great Britain won, there would have been, or done, anything in the slightest bit difference than what had been done already…and would be done in the future.

Some of these Native Americans would be considered amid the great men and minds of the Time.  As far as I am concerned, of all Time.  One of these was Joseph Brant, the Mohawk War Chief.  He had aided in the split of the Iroquois Confederacy by siding with Great Britain.  Not surprising, after the “War”, he moved to Canada.  Many times, Brant’s forces joined with Great Britain’s in various battles.  There are many of have wee minds who to this day love to hearken back to those old days and tell tales of Native American savagery and butchery.  Hear some words of Joseph Brant, from a Letter to some of Great Britain’s Commanding Officers, with regard to the actions of some of their forces which were with Brant during one such engagement.  Then, I ask of those of the former mindset – just who was/is the savage?

Joseph Brant – Mohawk:

“Sir: I send you, by one of our runners, the child which we will deliver, that you may know what ever others do, I do not make war on women and children.  I am sorry to say that I have those engaged with me in the service who are more savage than the savages themselves.”

“Every man of us thought that, by fighting for the King, we should ensure for ourselves and children, a good inheritance.”

Chiksika – Shawnee:

“The whole white race is a monster who is always hungry, and what he eats is land.”

Smoholla, Shaman – Wanapam:

“We had ponies long before we ever saw white people.  The Great Spirit gave them to us.  Our horses were swifter and more enduring too, before they were mixed with the white man’s horses.”

Many Horses – Oglala Sioux:

“ I will follow the white man’s trail.  I will make him my friend, but I will not bend my back to his brudens.  I will be cunning as a coyote.  I will ask him to help me understand his ways, then I will prepare the way for my children.  Maybe they will ountrun the white man in his own shoes.”

Martin Mitchell – Assiniboin:

“The Government issued a cow to each of us.  It was not time when every one of us had a nice bunch of cattle.  Every fall we used to ship a trainload of cattle to Chicago.  We were happy; we had plenty; we had nothing to worry about.  But this did not look good to the Indian Bureau.  They leased our reservation to a big cattle company.  In one year after that we were flat broke.”

N. Scott Momaday – Kiowa/Cherokee:

“I know how my father saw the world, and his father before him.  That’s how I see the world.”

So, in closing I ask again: Just who are the Ignorant Savages here?

The quotes have many sources; some I have remembered over the years; some I came across during ten plus years of cyber surfing and jotted them down never dreaming I would use them in an endeavor of this sort; a couple of them were "gifts" from my mother; some were sent to me via email and I have long since forgotten who sent them; and some were from a book published by Running Press called Native American Wisdom which was copyrighted in 1994. This is the best I can do as to giving credit, and I hope it suffices, for is it not the more important that such wise sayings and words be passed on to as many as possible?




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