American Indian Links
American Indian Quotes
Here are some
quotes for your enjoyment and enlightenment
"And so the last thing I can teach you, if you want to be taught by an old man living in a dilapidated shack, a man who went to the third grade for eight years, is this prayer, which I use when I am crying for a vision: 'Wakan Tanka, Tunkashila, onshimala.... Grandfather Spirit, pity me, so that my people may live."
-John Fire Lame Deer
Look at our brokenness,
We know that in all creation
Only the human family
Has strayed from the sacred way.
We know that we are the ones
And we are the ones
Who must come back together
To walk in the sacred way
Teach us love, compassion, honor
That we may heal the earth
And heal each other.
"There is no doubt that the Indian held medicine close to spiritual things. As a doctor he was originally very adroit and often successful. He employed only healing bark, roots, and leaves with whose properties he was familiar, using them in the form of a distillation or tea and always singly. The stomach or internal bath was a valuable discovery of his, and the vapor bath was in general use. He could set a broken bone with fair success, but never practiced surgery in any form. In addition to all this, the medicine-man possessed much personal magnetism and authority, and in his treatment often sought to reestablish the equilibrium of the patient through mental or spiritual influences.
The Sioux word for the healing art is "wah-pee-yah," which literally means readjusting or making anew. "Pay-jee-hoo-tah," literally root, means medicine, and "wakan" signifies spirit or mystery. Thus the three ideas, while sometimes associated, were carefully distinguished.
It is important to remember that in the old days the "medicine-man" received no payment for his services, which were of the nature of an honorable function or office. When the idea of payment and barter was introduced among us, and valuable presents or fees began to be demanded for treating the sick, the ensuing greed and rivalry led to many demoralizing practices, and in time to the rise of the modern "conjurer," who is generally a fraud and trickster of the grossest kind."
-Excerpts from the book "The Soul Of The Indian"
by Ohiyesa (Charles Alexander Eastman),
first published in 1911 by the University of Nebraska Press
" 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."
" Do Not grieve. Misfortunes will happen to the wisest and best of men. Death will come, always out of season. It is the command of the Great Spirit, and all nations and people must obey. What is past is past and what cannot be prevented should not be grieved for..."
" Let him [the white man] be just and deal kindly with my people,for the dead are not powerless. Dead, did I say? There is no death, only a change of worlds."
" Taku Shanskan is familiar with my spirit and when I die I will go with him. Then I will be with my forefathers. If this is not in the heaven of the white man I shall be satisfied. He is my father. The Wakan Tanka of the white man has overcome him. But I shall remain true to him.
Shadows are long and dark before me. I shall soon lie down to rise no more. While my spirit is with my body the smoke of my breath shall be towards the Sun for he knows all things and knows that I am still true to him."
-Red Cloud - Makhpiya-Luta Oglala - Sioux Chief (1822-1909)
(part of his farewell address to the Lakota people on July 4, 1903)
" 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."
-Crowfoot....April 1890, on his deathbed
" A man who would not love his father's grave is worse than a wild animal."
-Chief Joseph, Nez Perce
" Indian gravestones are not made to last. Often they are made of wood, but they reflect our nature and our beliefs. Only the mountains and the stars last forever."
-Lame Deer, Minneconjou Lakota
" I will never forget one thing. In Winter time, when you go to Wounded Knee never dig deep into the snow. All you will do is find the blood left by your family before me. Think only of them and say, it is a good day to die!"
-Tashunkala (Little Horse), SihaSapa Lakota
"The difference between the white man and us is this: You believe in the redeeming powers of suffering, if this suffering was done by somebody else, far away, two thousand years ago. We believe that it is up to every one of us to help each other, even through the pain of our bodies. ...We do not lay this burden onto our God, nor do we want to miss being face to face with the Spirit Power. ...We want no angel or saint to gain it for us and give it to us second-hand."
-John Fire Lame Deer
"We do face the sun and pray to God through the sun, asking for strength to complete the Sun Dance, and that our prayers will be heard...and in the sun we see visions."
-Frank Fools Crow, Lakota Sioux
"The Sun, the Light of the world.
I hear him coming.
I see his face as he comes.
He makes the beings on earth happy
And they rejoice.
O, Wakan Tanka, I offer to You this world of Light."
-Black Elk, The Sacred Pipe
"When we were created, we were given our ground to live on and from this time these were our rights. This is all true. We were put here by the Creator--I was not brought from a foreign country and did not come here. I was put here by the Creator."
-Chief Weninock, Yakima, 1915
The first man holds it in his hands
He holds the sun in his hands
In the center of the sky, he holds it in his hands
As he holds it in his hands, it starts upward.
The first woman holds it in her hands
She holds the moon in her hands
In the center of the sky, she holds it in her hands
As she holds it in her hands, it starts upward.
Now the Mother Earth
And the Father Sky
Meeting, joining one another,
Helpmates ever, they.
"Some of our chiefs make the claim that the land belongs to us. It is not what the Great Spirit told me. He told me that the lands belong to Him, that no people owns the land; that I was not to forget to tell this to the white people when I met them in council."
-Kanekuk (Kickapoo prophet)
"No tribe has the right to sell....Sell a country! Why not sell the air, the great sea, as well as the earth? Didn't the Great Spirit make them all for the use of his children?"
-Tecumseh (Shawnee visionary)
"There is a word meaning "All My Relations."
We will live by this word.
We are related to everything.
We are still here!
We shall live!
-Black Elk, a Lakota holy man
"We Sioux spend a lot of time thinking about everyday things which in our minds are mixed up with the spiritual. We see in the world around us many symbols that teach us the meaning of life. We have a saying that the white man sees so little, he must see with only one eye. We see a lot that you no longer notice. You could notice if you wanted to, but you are usually too busy. We Indians live in a world of symbols and images where the spiritual and commonplace are one...We try to understand them not with the head but with the heart"
- John Fire Lame Deer
"The Lakota could despise no creature, for all were of one blood, made by the same hand, and filled with the essence of the Great Mystery. In spirit, the Lakota were humble and meek. 'Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth' -- this was true for the Lakota, and from the earth they inherited secrets long since forgotten. Their religion was sane, natural, and human."
-Luther Standing Bear (1868-1939) Oglala Sioux chief
"Whenever, the course of a daily hunt, the hunter comes upon a scene that is strikingly beautiful, or sublime; a black thundercloud with the rainbow's glowing arch above the mountain, a white waterfall in the heart of a green gorge, a vast prairie tinged with the bood-red of the sunset; he pauses for an instant in the attitude of worship. He sees no need for setting apart one day in seven as a holy day, because to him all the days are God's days."
-Ohiyesa a/k/a Charles Alexander Eastman (Santee Sioux)
"You have noticed that everything an Indian does in 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 when we were a strong and happy people, 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 the 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."
-Black Elk Speaks, John G. Neihardt, University of Nebraska Press Lincoln and London, 1932
"With us the circle stands for the togetherness of people who sit with one another around a fire, relatives and friends united in peace, while the Pipe passes from hand to hand. Once all the families in the villages were in turn circles within a larger circle, part of the larger hoop of the nation. The nation was only part of the universe, in itself circular….circles within circles, within circles, with no beginning and no end.
“To us this is beautiful and fitting; symbol and reality at the same time, expressing the harmony of nature and life. Our circle is timeless, flowing; it is new life emerging from death – life winning out over death.”
-Lame Deer: Seeker of Visions
Listen or your tongue will keep you deaf.
-Native American Proverb
We give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.
-Sacred ritual chant
The Great Spirit does right. He knows what is best for his children. We are satisfied.
Brother, we do not wish to destroy your religion, or to take it from you. We only want to enjoy our own.
-Chief Red Jacket, 1805
It is the general belief of the Indians that after a man dies his spirit is somewhere on the earth or in the sky, we do not know exactly where, but we are sure that his spirit still lives. . . . So it is with
WakanTanka. We believe that he is everywhere, yet he is to us as the spirits of our friends, whose voices we can not hear.
Chased-by-Bears, Santee-Yanktonai Sioux