111+ Native American Wisdom – Sayings and Quotes from Native Americans

The discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in the 15th century marked a turning point for the indigenous peoples of North America.

For them, this encounter was a tragic event characterized by oppression and violence. Despite the suffering that the following centuries brought – marked by colonization and the destruction of numerous indigenous cultures such as the Inca Empire, the Mayan and Aztec civilizations – their wisdom survived in the form of traditional sayings and proverbs.

These testimonies of ancient cultures have been passed down from generation to generation and give us a unique insight into their profound philosophy and way of life, which still hold important teachings and wisdom for all of humanity today.

The authors of these sayings usually come from various Native American tribes in North America, and their words have been passed down from generation to generation over time.

List of memorable Native American wisdom

The white man has the clock, but we have the time.

Unknown

Why do we need the time? Back in the old days, we didn’t need them. We aligned ourselves with the rising and setting of the sun. We never had to hurry. We never had to look at the clock. We didn’t have to be at work at a certain time. We did what had to be done when we felt like it. But we made sure to do it before the day was over. We had more time because the day was still full.

Scott Eagle

People who only work have no time to dream. Only those who dream attain wisdom.

Smohalla

The ancient Dakota Indians were wise. They knew that the heart of a person who is alienated from nature becomes hard. They knew that a lack of reverence for all living things and everything that grows in nature would soon lead to a lack of reverence for humans. This is why the influence of nature, which made young people sensitive, was an important part of their upbringing.

Chief Dan George

Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.

Cree Indians

An Indian was sitting by the river and fishing. Then a white man came along and said to him: “Why don’t you go to work? You can earn money, buy a house, start a family, drive a big car. You could really lead a good life. Then you go on vacation, for example to a river to go fishing. The Indian replied: “Yes, white man, you’re right. I could do that. But I’m already sitting by a river and fishing.

Unknown
Indian wisdom stories
The silent path – Indian wisdom stories

No tribe has the right to sell, even to each other, much less to strangers…. Sell a country! Why not sell the air, the great sea, as well as the earth? Did not the Great Spirit make them for all the use of his children?

Tecumseh

You spread death, you buy and sell death, but you deny it; you don’t want to look it in the face. You have made death sterile, swept it under the carpet, robbed it of its dignity. We Indians, however, still think about death, think about it a lot. I do it too. Today would be a good day to die – not too hot, not too cold, a day when something of me could stay behind to linger a little longer. A perfect day for a person coming to the end of his path. For a person who is happy and has many friends.

Lame Deer
Quotes, Indians, Wisdom

“You already have everything you need to grow up.”

Crow

If a man is as wise as a serpent, he can afford to be as harmless as a dove.

Cheyenne

Listen to the wind, it whispers. Listen to the silence, it speaks. Listen to your heart, it is full of wisdom.

Unknown

Our first teacher is our own heart.

Cheyenne

Don’t be afraid to cry. It will free your mind from sad thoughts.

Hopi
Great book about the wisdom of the Indians

Day and night cannot live together.

Duwamish

All dreams are spun from the same web.

Hopi

It doesn’t take many words to tell the truth.

Chief Joseph, Nez Perce

The law of man changes with the understanding of man. Only the laws of the spirit always remain the same.

Crow

Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I might not remember. Involve me and I will understand.

unknown

How slippery the language of white people must be if they can make right look like wrong and wrong look like right.

Black Hawk, Sauk

There is no death, only a change of worlds.

Duwamish
Old age is not as honorable as death, but most people want it.
Crow

Birds leave the earth with their wings. People can also leave the earth, not with wings, but with their spirit.

Black Elk (Oglala) (1863 – 1950)

A nation is not conquered as long as the hearts of its women are strong.

Cheyenne Indians

How can the dead really be dead while they live on in our hearts?

Unknown
Quotes, Indians, Wisdom

You have to look at things with the eye in your heart, not the eye in your head.

John Fire Lame Deer

Walk tall like the trees. Live your life as strong as the mountains. Be as gentle as the spring wind. Keep the warmth of the sun in your heart and the great spirit will always be with you.

Navajo Indians

Never despair. The days pass like the autumn leaves flying in the wind, and the days return with the clear sky and the splendor of the forests. Every seed is awakened anew, and that is exactly how life proceeds.

Unknown

Don’t stand at my grave and weep, I’m not there, and no, I’m not sleeping. I am one of the thousand undulating waves of the lake, I am the diamond glitter of the snow, when you awake in the stillness of the morning, I am hidden from you, I am a bird in flight, as soft as a breeze, I am the gentle light of the stars in the night. Don’t stand at my grave and weep, I’m not there, and no, I’m not sleeping.

Lakota Indians

The wonders of creation are so diverse that this beauty will never end. Creation is here. It is in you right now, always has been. The world is a wonder. The world is magic. The world is love. And it is here, now.

Iroquois Indians

It’s better to have less thunder in your mouth and more lightning in your hand.

Apaches
The wisdom of the Indians and Shamans

When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.

Cherokee

Life is not separate from death. It just looks that way.

Blackfoot

Everyone who is successful must have dreamed of something.

Maricopa

Beware of the man who does not speak and the dog who does not bark.

Cheyenne

Power, no matter how hidden, creates resistance.

Lakota

When you know who you are; when your mission is clear and you burn with the inner fire of unbreakable will; no cold can touch your heart; no deluge can dampen your purpose. You know that you are alive.

Chief Seattle, Duwamish

Those who lie down with dogs get up with fleas.

Blackfoot

You have to look deeper, way below the anger,the hurt, the hate, the jealousy, the self-pity,way down deep where the dreams lie, son.

Billy Mills
Quotes, Indians, Wisdom

When the Earth is sick, the animals will begin to disappear, when that happens, The Warriors of the Rainbow will come to save them. Like a man who has been dying for many days, a man in your city is numb to the stench. Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it.

Chief Seattle

Everything on Earth has a Purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian Theory of EXISTENCE.

Mourning Dove Salish

You cannot wake a person who is pretending to be asleep.

Navajo

Our souls are just passing through. Our task here is to observe, learn, grow, love and then return home.

Aborigines

A frog does not drink from the pond in which it lives.

Unknown

You don’t sell the land you walk on.

Crazy Horse

We have not inherited the earth from our parents, we have only borrowed it from our children.

Unknown
Stay on your path – wisdom from an old Indian

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

Chief Plenty Coups, Crow

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.

Canassatego
This war did not spring up here in our land; this war was brought upon us by the children of the Great Father who came to take our land from us without price, and who, in our land, do a great many evil things…This war has come from robbery – from the stealing of our land.
Spotted tail

We must protect the forests for those who can’t speak for themselves such as the birds, animals, fish and trees.

Qwatsina’s Edward Moody, Nuxalk Nation

Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was lent to you by your children. We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.

Unknown

Great eagle, come to us from the rising sun and take us under your wings and show us the mountains and valleys we have never dared to dream of and teach us to fly alongside the great spirit.

an old Indian thanksgiving to the winds of the east

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