Quotes To Live By
These Native American quotes are words of great wisdom that offer simple, inspirational guidance in living a spiritual, peaceful life.
Previously, this page contained Native American quotes that were not attributed to any particular person or tribe. They were all the quotes I had come across over the years that stated they were Native American. The few quotes that I had from specific Native American people were added to the pages relevant to their quote.
I have now changed this page and added two more:
- This page: Quotes from specific Native American PEOPLE
- Quotes from specific TRIBES
- Quotes from UNKNOWN People or Tribes
The older picture-quotes will just have 'Native American' on them, rather than the newly found source. I will add more (with the right names) over time.
Native American Quotes: Ben Black Elk
Ben Black Elk 1899 - 1973
Martin Luther King said, "I have a dream." But we Indians didn't have a dream, we had a reality.
Native American Quotes: Black Elk
Black Elk 1863 - 1950
A warrior who had more than he needed would make a feast. He went around and invited the old and needy.
All over the sky a sacred voice is calling your name.
Behold this day. It is yours to make.
Crazy Horse dreamed and went into the world where there is nothing but the spirits of all things. That is the real world that is behind this one, and everything we see here is something like a shadow from that one.
Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a person is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves. Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours.
Great Spirit, the good road and the road of difficulties you have made me cross; and where they cross, the place is holy.
Grown men can learn from very little children, for the hearts of the little children are pure. Therefore, the Great Spirit may show to them many things which older people miss.
Black Elk 1863 - 1950
I cured with the power that came through me. Of course, it was not I who cured, it was the power from the Outer World; the visions and ceremonies only made me like a hole through which the power could come to the two-leggeds. If I thought that I was doing it myself, the hole would close up and no power could come through.
Know the power that is Peace.
Let every step you take upon the Earth be as a prayer.
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.
May you always walk in beauty.
One should pay attention to even the smallest crawling creature for these too may have a valuable lesson to teach us.
Peace will come to the hearts of men when they realize their oneness with the universe, it is everywhere.
Perhaps you have noticed that even in the slightest breeze you can hear the voice of the cotton tree; this we understand is its prayer to the Great Spirit, for not only men, but all things and all beings pray to Him continually in different ways.
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 at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that its center is really everywhere, it is within each of us. This is the real peace, and the others are but reflections of this. The second peace is that which is made between two individuals, and the third is that which is made between two nations. But above all you should understand that there can never be peace between nations until there is known that true peace, which, as I have often said, is within the Souls of men.
The Great Spirit is everywhere; He hears whatever is in our minds and our hearts, and it is not necessary to speak to Him in a loud voice.
The Holy Land is everywhere.
You showed me… the spirit shape of things as they should be. You have shown me, and I have seen.
Native American Quotes: Chased-By-Bears
Chased-By-Bears 1843 - 1915
So it is with Waken Tanka, we believe that He is everywhere.
When a man does a piece of work which is admired by all we say that it is wonderful; but when we see the changes of day and night, the sun, the moon, and the stars in the sky, and the changing seasons upon the Earth, with their ripening fruits, anyone must realize that it is the work of someone more powerful than man.
Native American Quotes: Cochise
Cochise (Chief) 1812 - 1874
We never quarrel about the Great Spirit.
You must speak straight so that your words may go as sunlight to our hearts.
Native American Quotes: Cornplanter
Cornplanter (Chief) c.1732 - 1836
Indians love their friends and kindred, and treat them with kindness.
We cannot waste one drop of our energy. We must live and change with the world around us.
When the sun goes down, he opens his heart to God, and earlier than the sun appears on the hills, he gives thanks for his protection during the night.
Native American Quotes: Crazy Horse
Crazy Horse (Chief) c.1840 - 1877
A very great vision is needed and the man who has it must follow it as the eagle seeks the deepest blue of the sky.
Upon suffering beyond suffering: the Red Nation shall rise again and it shall be a blessing for a sick world. A world filled with broken promises, selfishness and separations. A world longing for light again. I see a time of Seven Generations when all colors of mankind will gather under the Sacred Tree of Life and the whole Earth will become one circle again. In that day, there will be those among the Lakota who will carry knowledge and understanding of unity among all living things and the young white ones will come to those of my people and ask for this wisdom. I salute the light within your eyes where the whole Universe dwells. For when you are at that centre within you and I am that place within me, we shall be one.
(sat smoking the Sacred Pipe with Sitting Bull four days before he was assassinated)
Native American Quotes: Crowfoot
Crowfoot (Chief) 1830 - 1890
A little while and I will be gone from among you, when I cannot tell. From nowhere we came, into nowhere we go.
What is life?...
It is the flash of 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.
Native American Quotes: Dan George
Dan George (Chief) 1899 - 1981
Can we talk of integration until there is integration of hearts and minds? Unless you have this, you only have a physical presence, and the walls between us are as high as the mountain range.
If the very old will remember, the very young will listen.
Love is something you and I must have. We must have it because our spirit feeds upon it. We must have it because without it we become weak and faint. Without it our courage fails. Without love, we can no longer look confidently at the world. We turn inward.. And little by little we destroy ourselves. With it, we are creative. With it, we march tirelessly. With it, and with it alone, we are able to sacrifice for others.
May the stars carry your darkness away.
May the flowers fill your heart with beauty.
May hope forever wipe away your tears.
And above all, may silence make you strong.
My friends, how desperately do we need to be loved and to love. With it we are creative. With it we march tirelessly. With it, and with it alone, we are able to sacrifice for others.
The beauty of the trees, the softness of the air,
the fragrance of the grass... speaks to me.
The summit of the mountain, the thunder of the sky
the rhythm of the sea... speaks to me.
The faintness of the stars, the freshness of the morning
the dew drop on the flower... speaks to me.
The strength of fire, the taste of salmon, the trail of the sun
and the life that never goes away.
They speak to me and my heart soars
The only thing necessary for tranquility in the world is that every child grows up happy.
Julie, Dawn, Sarah, Redmond, Emma, Kevin, Denis (1990)
Native American Quotes: Flat Iron
Flat Iron (Chief)
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.
Native American Quotes: Flying Hawk
Flying Hawk (Chief) 1854 - 1931
Nobody can be in good health if he does not have all the time fresh air, sunshine and good water.
Native American Quotes: Four Guns
Four Guns (Chief)
The Indian needs no writings; words that are true sink deep into his heart where they remain in silence. He never forgets them.
Native American Quotes: Geronimo
Geronimo 1829 - 1909
I was warmed by the sun, rocked by the winds, and sheltered by the trees as other Indian babes.
Sometimes we prayed in silence; sometimes each one prayed aloud; sometimes an aged person prayed for all of us - and to Usen.
There is one God looking down on us all. We are all children of one God. God is listening to me. The sun, the darkness, the winds, are all listening to what we now say.
When a child my mother taught me the legends of our people; taught me of the sun and sky, the moon and stars, the clouds and storms. She also taught me to kneel and pray to Usen for strength, health, wisdom and protection.
Native American Quotes: John Ross
John Ross (Chief) 1790 - 1866
May the Lord bring you out of all your troubles. Trust your course with Him.
Our wish is for peace. Peace at home and peace among you.
Stand fast and remain united and all will soon be well.
We, the great mass of the people, think only of the love we have for our land, for we do love the land where we were brought up.
Native American Quotes: Joseph
Joseph (Chief) 1840 - 1904
It does not require many words to speak the truth.
The Earth and myself are of one mind.
The Great Spirit is looking at me and will hear me.
We were contented to let things remain as the Great Spirit made them.
Native American Quotes: Keokuk
Keokuk (Chief) c.1709 - 1848
The Great Spirit has smiled upon us and made us glad.
Native American Quotes: Leon Shenandoah
Leon Shenandoah (Chief) 1915 - 1996
Every human being has a sacred duty to protect the welfare of our Mother Earth, from whom all life comes. In order to do this we must recognize the enemy.. the one within us. We must begin with ourselves.
It is no longer good enough to cry peace, we must act peace, live peace and live in peace.
The greatest power is the Creator. But, if you want to know the greatest strength.. That is gentleness.
We are the spiritual energy that is thousands of times stronger than nuclear energy. Our energy in the combines will of all people with the spirit of the Natural World, to be of one body, one heart and one mind for peace.
We must live in harmony with the Natural World.
Native American Quotes: Luther Standing Bear
Luther Standing Bear (Chief) 1868 - 1939
Conversation was never begun at once, nor in a hurried manner. No one was quick with a question, no matter how important, and no one was pressed for an answer. A pause giving time for thought was the truly courteous way of beginning and conducting a conversation. Silence was meaningful with the Lakota, and his granting a space of silence to the speech-maker and his own moment of silence before talking was done in the practice of true politeness and regard for the rule that, thought comes before speech.
If today I had a young mind to direct, to start on the journey of life, and I was faced with the duty of choosing between the natural way of my forefathers and that of the present way of civilization, I would, for its welfare, unhesitantly set that child’s feet in the path of my forefathers. I would raise him to be an Indian.
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.
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.
The man who sat on the ground in his tipi meditating on life and its meaning, accepting the kinship of all creatures and acknowledging unity with the universe of things, was infusing into his being the true essence of civilization.
The old Lakota was wise. He knew that a man’s heart away from nature becomes hard. He knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans, too. So he kept his children close to nature’s softening influence.
We did not think of the open plains, the beautiful rolling hills, the winding streams with tangled growth as wild. Only the white man was nature a wilderness, and only to him was it ‘infested’ with ‘wild’ animals and ‘savage’ people. To us it was tame. Earth was bountiful and we were surrounded with the blessings of the Great Mystery.
Native American Quotes: Maquinna
Once I was in Victoria, and I saw a very large house. They told me it was a bank and that the white men place their money there to be taken care of, and that by and by they got it back with interest. We are Indians and we have no such bank; but when we have plenty of money or blankets, we give them to other chiefs and people, and by and by they return them with interest, and our hearts feel good. Our way of giving is our bank.
Native American Quotes: Mourning Dove
Mourning Dove 1888 - 1936
aka Christal Quintasket
Children were encouraged to develop a 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.
Everything on Earth has a purpose, every disease a herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian theory of existence.
Native American Quotes: Nikinapi
Nikinapi (Chief) ? - c.1750
Never has the Earth been so lovely nor the sun so bright, as today.
Native American Quotes: Ohiyesa
Ohiyesa 1858 - 1939
aka Charles Alexander Eastman
Each Soul must meet the morning sun, the new, sweet Earth and the Great Silence, alone.
It is our belief that the love of possessions is a weakness to be overcome. Its appeal is to the material part, and if allowed its way, it will in time disturb one’s spiritual balance. Therefore, children must early learn the beauty of generosity. They are taught to give what they prize most, that they may taste the happiness of giving.
We were taught generosity to the poor and reverence for the Great Mystery. Religion was the basis of all Indian training.
Whenever, in the course of the 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 blood-red of the sunset - he pauses for an instant in the attitude of worship.
Native American Quotes: Okute
All birds, even those of the same species, are not alike, and it is the same with animals and with human beings. The reason Wakan Tanka does not make two birds, or animals, or human beings exactly alike is because each is placed by Wakan Tanka to be an independent individuality and to rely upon itself.
All living creatures and all plants derive their life from the sun. if it were not for the sun, there would be darkness and nothing would grow - the earth would be without life. Yet the sun must have the help of the earth. If the sun alone were to act upon animals and plants, the heat would be so great and they would die, but there are clouds that bring rain, and the action of the sun and earth together supplies the moisture that is needed for life. The roots of a plant go down, and the deeper they go the more moisture they find. This is according to the laws of nature and is one of the evidences of the wisdom of Wakan Tanka.
From my boyhood I have observed leaves, trees, and grass, and I have never found two alike. They may have a general likeness, but on examination I have found that they differ slightly. It is the same with animals… it is the same with human beings, there is some place which is best adapted to each.
Native American Quotes: Oren Lyons
Oren Lyons 1930
Although we are in different boats, you in your boat and we in our canoe, we share the same river of life.
I do not see a delegation for the four-legged, I see no seat for the eagles. We forget and we consider ourselves superior, but we are, after all, a mere part of creation and we must consider to understand where we are. And we stand somewhere between the mountain and the ant, as part and parcel of Creation.
Science can point out dangers, but science cannot turn the direction of minds and hearts. That is the province of spiritual powers within and without, our very beginnings, powers that are mysteries of life itself.
The environment isn’t over here.
The environment isn’t over there.
You are the environment.
We say that the faces of coming generations are looking up from the Earth. So when you put your foot down, you put your foot down very carefully - because there are generations coming one after another. If you think in these terms, then you’ll walk a lot more carefully, be more respectful of this Earth.
What you people call your natural resources, our people call our relatives.
Native American Quotes: Petalesharo
Petalesharo (Chief) c.1797 - c.1836
This brings rest to my heart, I feel like a leaf after a storm, when the wind is still.
Native American Quotes: Pied Riche
Pied Riche (Chief)
We must help one another and the Great Spirit will help us both, because one suffers and does not deserve it, is no reason he shall suffer always. We may live to see it right yet. If we do not.. our children will.
Native American Quotes: Red Cloud
Red Cloud (Chief) 1822 - 1909
God Almighty has made us all.
I hope the Great Heavenly Father, who will look down upon us, will give all the tribes His blessing, that we may go forth in peace, and live in peace all our days, and that He will look down upon our children and finally lift us far above this Earth; and that our Heavenly Father will look upon our children as His children, that all the tribes may be His children, and as we shake hands today upon this broad plan, we may forever live in peace.
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.
Native American Quotes: Red Fox
Red Fox (Chief) 1870 - 1976
No one ever saw an Indian destroy something the Great Creator gave to man for his needs.
Native American Quotes: Robert Higheagle
Robert Higheagle c.1873 - 1938
It is strictly believed and understood by the Sioux that a child is the greatest gift from Wakan Tanka, in response to many devout prayers, sacrifices, and promises. Therefore the child is considered ‘sent from Wakan Tanka’ through some element, namely the element of human nature.
Native American Quotes: Seattle
Seattle (Chief) 1780 - 1866
Suquamish & Duwamish
All things share the same breath: the beast, the tree the man. The air shares its spirit with all the life it supports.
Day and night cannot dwell together. Your religion was written on tables of stone, ours was written on our hearts.
Every part of this soil is sacred in the estimation of my people.
How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them? Every part of this Earth is sacred to my people. We are part of the Earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters - the deer, the horse, the great eagle - these are our brothers. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves. All things are connected like the blood which unites one's family. All things are connected.
Our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch of our ancestors as we walk over this Earth.
Our God is also your God. The Earth is precious to Him.
Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints.
There is no death, only a change of worlds.
Seattle (Chief) 1780 - 1866
Suquamish & Duwamish
Today is fair. Tomorrow may be overcast with clouds. My words are like the stars that never change.
We are all children of the Great Spirit, we all belong to Mother Earth.
We are but a thread in the web of life. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together, all things are connected.
Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the Earth is our mother? What befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth. This we know: the Earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the Earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.
Native American Quotes: Senachwine
Senachwine (Chief) c.1744 - 1831
Return not evil for evil, as this would offend the Great Spirit.
The monitor within my breast has taught me the will of the Great Spirit.
Native American Quotes: Sequichie Comingdeer
The death of fear is in doing what you fear to do.
Native American Quotes: Sitting Bull
Sitting Bull (Chief) 1831 - 1890
Each man is good in His sight. It is not necessary for eagles to be crows.
God made me an Indian.
I am here by the will of the Great Spirit, and by His will I am a chief.
I know the Great Spirit is looking down upon me from above, and will hear what I say.
In my early days I was eager to learn and to do things, and therefore I learned quickly.
Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children.
The Earth has received the embrace of the sun and we shall see the results of that love.
Native American Quotes: Standing Bear
Standing Bear (Chief) c1829 - 1908
Certain small ways and observances sometimes have connection with large and more profound ideas.
This hand is not the color of yours, but if you pierce it, I shall feel pain. If you pierce your hand, you also feel pain. The blood that will flow from mine will be the same color as yours. I am a man. God made us both.
Native American Quotes: Tecumsah
Tecumsah (Chief) 1768 - 1813
Although ice and snow may lie deep upon my wigwam, I should find a warm fire within.
I have made myself what I am.
Live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about his religion.
Respect others in their views and demand that they respect yours.
Love your life. Perfect your life. Beautify all things in your life.
Seek to make your life long and of service to your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend,
Or even a stranger, if in a lonely place.
Show respect to all people, but grovel to none.
When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light,
for your life, for your strength.
Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.
Touch not the poisonous firewater that makes wise ones turn to fools
And robs their spirit of its vision.
When your time comes to die,
be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death,
So that when their times 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.
Native American Quotes: White Eagle
White Eagle (Chief) 1840 - 1914
When you are in doubt, be still, and wait. When doubt no longer exists for you, then go forward with courage. So long as mists envelop you, be still. Be still until the sunlight pours through and dispels the mists, as it surely will.. Then act with courage.
Native American Quotes: Wooden Leg
Wooden Leg 1858 - 1940
The old Indian teaching was that it is wrong to tear loose from its place on the Earth anything that may be growing there. It may be cut off, but it should not be uprooted. The trees and the grass have spirits. Whenever one of such growth may be destroyed by some good Indian, his act is done in sadness and with a prayer for forgiveness because of his necessities.
Native American Quotes: Wovoka
Wovoka 1856 - 1932
aka Jack Wilson
Do right always. It will give you satisfaction in life.
Native American Quotes: Yellow Lark
Yellow Lark (Chief) 1840 - 1914
O Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the wind, whose breath gives life to all the world. Hear me: I need your strength and wisdom. Let me walk in beauty, and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset. Make my hands respect the things you have made and my ears sharp to hear your voice. Make me wise so that I may understand the things you have taught my people. Help me to remain calm and strong in the face of all that comes towards me. Let me learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock. Help me seek pure thoughts and act with the intention of helping others. Help me find compassion without empathy overwhelming me. I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother, but to fight my greatest enemy, Myself. Make me always ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes. So when life fades, as the fading sunset, my spirit may come to you without shame. - translated by Chief Yellow Lark