Words of Wisdom
The American Indian is of the soil, whether it be the region of forests, plains, pueblos,
or mesas. He fits into the landscape, for the hand that fashioned the continent also fashioned the man for his surroundings.
He once grew as naturally as the wild sunflowers, he belongs just as the buffalo belonged....
Out of the Indian approach to life there came a great freedom, an intense and absorbing
respect for life, enriching faith in a Supreme Power, and principles of truth, honesty, generosity, equity, and brotherhood
as a guide to mundane relations.
You have noticed that everything an 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) 1863-1950
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)
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
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.
-Eagle Chief (Letakos-Lesa) Pawnee
...... 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.
-Mourning Dove (Salish) 1888-1936
"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."
... I have seen that in any great undertaking it is not enough for a man to depend simply
-Lone Man (Isna-la-wica)(Teton Sioux)
"Where today are the Pequot? Where are the Narragansett, the Mohican, the Pokanoket,
and many other once powerful tribes of our people? They have vanished before the avarice and the oppression of the White Man,
as snow before a summer sun.
"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!'"
"The white people, who are trying to make us over into their image, they want us to be
what they call "assimilated," bringing the Indians into the mainstream and destroying our own way of life and our own cultural
patterns. They believe we should be contented like those whose concept of happiness is materialistic and greedy, which is
very different from our way.
We want freedom from the white man rather than to be integrated. We don't want any part
of the establishment, we want to be free to raise our children in our religion, in our ways, to be able to hunt and fish and
live in peace. We don't want power, we don't want to be congressmen, or bankers....we want to be ourselves. We want to have
our heritage, because we are the owners of this land and because we belong here.
The white man says, there is freedom and justice for all. We have had "freedom and justice,"
and that is why we have been almost exterminated. We shall not forget this."
-From the 1927 Grand Council of American Indians