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Indigenous People’s Quotes Honoring First People

Celebrate Indigenous People’s Day 2021 with these 60 quotes from Indigenous activists, scientists, healers, leaders and youth from all around the world!

Read through this collection of Indigenous People’s quotes and let us know which quote was your favorite at the end!

Originally presented as early as 1977, this holiday celebrates the culture, wisdom, accomplishments, and importance of Indigenous people. According to Amnesty International, there are over 370 million people in over 70 countries who identify themselves as Indigenous. Of the 900 million people in extremely poor rural areas, ⅓ of them are Indigenous Peoples with 70% of them living in Asia.

As globalization continues to make the world smaller, access to previously unknown stories and histories is more available. With new access to old knowledge; the legacies, histories, and voices of previously underrepresented communities become stronger.

Indigenous people continue to deal with injustice, yet across the planet, united groups and communities continue to advocate and fight for their rights.

These quotes highlight the brilliance, wisdom, tenacity, and importance of the impact of Indigenous knowledge.

Don’t forget to also check out these wise native American quotes on community, respect, and more.

Indigenous People’s Quotes – North America

1. “The Holy Land is everywhere.” – Black Elk

2. “All who have died are equal.” – Comanche Wisdom

3. “Hold on to what is good, Even if it’s a handful of earth.” – Crowfoot

4. “We must continue to pray for the water, as there is no life without water.” – Autumn Peltier

5. “It is better to have less thunder in the mouth and more lightning in the hand.” – Apache Wisdom

6. “We shouldn’t have to fight for something that should be our number one right.” – Quannah ChasingHorse

7. “We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.” – Dakota Wisdom

8. All men were made by the same Great Spirit Chief. They are all brothers.” – White Elk

9. “The Earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it.” – White Elk

10. “I have seen that in any great undertaking it is not enough for a man to depend simply upon himself.” – Lone Man (Isna-la-wica), Teton Sioux

11. “When you are in doubt, be still, and wait; when doubt no longer exists for you, then go forward with courage.” – Chief White Eagle, Ponca

12. “Treat all men alike. Give them all the same law. Give them all an even chance to live and grow.” – White Elk

13. “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.” – Chief Seattle, Duwamish

14. “If you talk to the animals they will talk with you and you will know each other. If you do not talk to them you will not know them and what you do not know, you will fear. What one fears, one destroys.” – Chief Dan George, Tsleil-Waututh Nation

15. “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.” – Chief White Eagle, Ponca

16. “I do not think the measure of a civilization is how tall its buildings of concrete are, but rather how well its people have learned to relate to their environment and fellow man.” – Sun Bear, Chippewa

17. “May the stars carry your sadness away, May the flowers fill your heart with beauty, May hope forever wipe away your tears, And, above all, may silence make you strong.” – Chief Dan George, Tsleil-Waututh Nation

Indigenous People’s Quotes – Central/South America & The Caribbean 

18. “I will never give up my land.” – Maxima Acuna

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19. “They want to say we are extinct. Because if you extinguish un pueblo, then there isn’t a pueblo to defend its rights to the land, political participation, economic structure, social structure, education and reparations.” – Pluma Barbara

20. “We are the resistance of our people and territory – For there is no planet B.” – Erik Marky

21. “Being part of an indigenous community and living in an island nation makes us even more vulnerable to the devastating effects of climate change.” – Yurshell Rodríguez

22.“Finally, we will continue to contribute to our national indigenous movement from our thinking, feeling, and act as indigenous youth from the worldview that we inherited spiritually from our ancestors.” – Dokera Domico

23. “We are all from the same Earth, from the same world. And all of us have the responsibility to take care of our planet. We cannot dream of a future if we cannot guarantee a present.” –Mita Xipaya

24. Our politicians and decision-makers must hold the climate polluters accountable for destroying the natural and ecological dynamics of our planet.” – Yurshell Rodríguez

25. “If we don’t have water we don’t have a life or a future.” – Maxima Acuna

26. “I never had the chance to go the school, I never had a chance to learn even a letter but I know how to resist, to fight and that’s why I will never be defeated by the mining companies.” – Maxima Acuna

27. “So many tears have been shed by poor people here, people have been killed for defending the water and the land. The miners don’t assume their responsibility for that.” –Maxima Acuna

Indigenous People’s Quotes – Africa

28. “The indigenous youth are the custodians of mother earth!” – Gift Parseen

29. “We do not see other species as separate.” – Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim

30. “My journey started with basically seeing the need and knowing that I was able to change my whole community.” – Shanice Appels

31. “We know that we can learn from the birds, the insects, the cattle, the trees and flowers, because we observe them.” – Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim

32. “This is a good beginning, but what we need is free education for girls.” – Purity Soinato Oiyie

33. “We suffer from common problems which characterize the plight of Indigenous people throughout the world.” – Moringe Ole Parkipuny

34. “I believe that the future generation is well protected in the good actions of the present generation.” – Gift Parseen

35. “It was very difficult to speak out because of being a so-called ‘Coloured.’ It’s like your voice is always ignored.” – Shanice Appels

36. “Indigenous people from every corner of the globe recognize that other species are part of nature and as human beings, we are also part of nature.” – Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim

37. “I believe that the youth are not the future leaders – as the saying goes – rather, they are the leaders leading in action towards the future!” – Gift Parseen

38. “They give us the information we need for our food, for our medicine. All the species for us are important and they are equal; we respect each of them.” – Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim

39. “Violence is the norm here and poverty is something that everybody is victim to.” – Shanice Appels

40. “When we leave one place to go to another, we give way for the ecosystem to get regenerated.” – Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim

Indigenous People’s Quotes – Australia 

41. “The more you know, the less you need.” – Australian Aboriginal Wisdom

42. “Health and healing are interwoven, which means that one can’t be separated from the other.” – Dr. Tamara Mackean

43. “Those who lose dreaming are lost.” – Australian Aboriginal Wisdom

44. ”May as well be here, we are as where we are.” – Australian ‘Aboriginal Wisdom

45. “Our spirituality is a oneness and an interconnectedness with all that lives and breathes, even with all that does not live or breathe.” – Mudrooroo

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46. “This earth, I never damage. I look after.” – Bill Neidjie

47. “We have a human relationship with the land: Mother, daughter, son” – Djinyini Gondarra

48. “Racism is a disease in society. We’re all equal. I don’t care what their color is, or religion. Just as long as they’re human beings they’re my buddies.” – Mandawuy Yunupingu

49. “When the land is taken from us or destroyed, we feel hurt because we belong to the land and we are part of it.” – Djinyini Gondarra

50. “We cultivated our land, but in a way different from the white man. We endeavored to live with the land; they seemed to live off it. I was taught to preserve, never to destroy.” – Tom Dystra

51. “The land is my mother. Like a human mother, the land gives us protection, enjoyment and provides our needs – economic, social and religious.” – Djinyini Gondarra

52. “To us, health is about so much more than simply not being sick. It’s about getting a balance between physical, mental, emotional, cultural and spiritual health.” – Dr. Tamara Mackean

53. “Health and healing are interwoven, which means that one can’t be separated from the other.” – Dr. Tamara Mackean

54. “We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home.” – Australian Aboriginal Wisdom

Indigenous People’s Quotes – Asia 

55. “There are so many stories of our people getting evicted from their own land by big corporations.” – Randi Julian Miranda

56. “Our Ancestors have been protecting Nature at the cost of their lives.” – Archana Soreng

57. “We are educated in our own way, just not formally educated in accordance with our state standards.” – Randi Julian Miranda

58. “We indigenous Youth are proud of our history, culture and knowledge system.” – Archana Soreng

59. “We want to express our culture. So many things have been lost. But it makes us afraid in our own communities.” – Jakob Siringoringo

60. “Land is also a part of our culture, if we don’t have land to live on or cultivate, or [on which to pursue] our livelihoods, we will not be able to have our separate, distinct, and diverse culture.” – Chandra Tripura

More Indigenous People’s Quotes to Think About

61. “I think that the thing I most want you to remember is that research is a ceremony. And so is life. Everything that we do shares in the ongoing creation of our universe.” ― Shawn Wilson

62. “The global Indigenous cause reached a major milestone in 2007 when the UN General Assembly passed the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Only four members of the assembly voted in opposition, all of them Anglo settler-states – the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.” ― Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

63. “I have a real problem when those people preferring to affirm an African or even a Spanish side to their history say that I can’t affirm who I am as an indigenous person, as though everybody else is entitled to be who they are on our ancestral homeland, except us.” ― Roberto Mukaro Borrero

64. “We need a seat at the table … If we’re not at the table, we’re probably on the menu.” ― Roberto Mukaro Borrero

65. “It’s time we stop celebrating October 11 as Columbus Day and consider it as “Repentance Day”, to acknowledge, and make amends for, the appalling atrocities committed by mindless and heartless oppressors like Columbus.” ― Abhijit Naskar

66. “A racist notion found in neoshamanic circles is placing high value on indigenous wisdom but not on indigenous people.” ― S. Kelley Harrell

67. “Indigenous religious traditions around the world continue to provide an ancient yet living vision of nature as sacred, requiring human respect and entailing human responsibilities.” ― Lisa Kemmerer

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68. “Disadvantages faced by indigenous peoples are related to dispossession and exacerbated by powerlessness and poverty.” ― Roberto Mukaro Borrero

69. “Letters and diaries sometimes bring us close to grand moments or touching scenes in the history of Euro-Americans, but harkening back to the thoughts and feelings of the less powerful, we meet only silence” ― Camilla Townsend

70. “Unknown Indigenous people don’t receive any help, they vanish as silently as they have lived.” ― Jean-Philippe Soulé

Indigenous People’s Quotes That are Full of Wisdom

71. “Indigenous people made huge contributions to this country. The biggest is in sharing the land and resources. People need to see that, understand that. Indigenous people should be viewed as the founding peoples of this land.” ― Perry Bellegarde

72. “Although we are in different boats you in your boat and we in our canoe we share the same river of life.” ― Oren Lyons

73. “We must respect each other’s right to choose a collective destiny, and the opportunity to develop the legal and political rights for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples so that we may enjoy the right to maintain our culture, our heritage and our land, as a united Australia.”
Jackie Huggins

74. “We are all indigenous people on this planet, and we have to reorganize to get along.”
Rebecca Adamson

75. “We are not myths of the past, ruins in the jungle, or zoos. We are people and we want to be respected, not to be victims of intolerance and racism.” ― Rigoberta Menchu

76. “We seem to have lost the wisdom of the indigenous people, which dictated that in any major decision, the first consideration was ‘How will this decision we’re making today affect our people in the future? These days, decisions are made based on the bottom line.” ― Jane Goodall

77. “For Indigenous peoples , the impact of separating us from our heritage goes directly to the heart that pumps life through our peoples. To expect a people to be able to enjoy their culture without their cultural heritage and their sacred belongings is equivalent to amputating their legs and digging up the ground and asking them to run a marathon.” ― Mick Dodson

78. “I support the indigenous people anywhere in the planet.” ― Edward James Olmos

79. “Solutions will not be found while Indigenous people are treated as victims for whom someone else must find solutions.” ― Malcolm Fraser

80. “I am against the fact that a settler minority should impose an entire system of values on an indigenous people.” ― Steven Biko

What did you learn from these Indigenous People’s quotes?

Change can be difficult for some people. While some are excited and honored to celebrate a holiday that includes all of the cultures who have added to earth’s diverse tapestry, others feel that their traditions are being impinged on.

Celebrating Indigenous People’s day does not mean you wish to demean or detract from other traditions people follow; it means you wish to celebrate the strength to survive while making room to honor a larger scope of traditions and cultures.

Indigenous communities have been under attack for generations. They have seen entire communities genocided, languages lost, cultural practices erased and land destroyed. In the current Covid-19 pandemic, Indigenous groups across the planet have been forced to contend with difficult conditions without the necessary support and structures.

Yet, through it all, many continue to practice their culture and remain tightly knitted as communities. Hopefully, these indigenous people’s quotes inspired and exposed you to some cultural wisdom that you can carry with you as you celebrate today.

Clifton Sankofa
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