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Wise Native American Quotes on Community, Respect, and More

These Native American quotes will inspire you to appreciate your life, your community, and the people that you know and love.

Native American nations lived connected with nature and their community for thousands of years.

Many tribes were without the written word, so they carried their traditions orally – passed down from generation to generation.

Through this oral tradition, wisdom from tribal elders and proverbs about community and respect were taught to the youth, providing lessons to learn as they grew up. 

Now, their classic proverbs have been recorded and people of any culture can learn from these wise words.

Traditions have continued to be inherited by members of Native American tribes and modern leaders have added their wisdom to that of their ancestors. 

As you read these Native American quotes and proverbs, consider what you can learn from their words.

Don’t forget to read our list of culture quotes about our ways of life.

Wise Native American quotes and proverbs

1. “Old age is not as honorable as death, but most people want it.” – Crow

Native American Quotes about old age

2. “If a man is as wise as a serpent, he can afford to be as harmless as a dove.” – Cheyenne

Wise Native American Quotes

3. “There is no death, only a change of worlds.” – Duwamish

Native American Quotes about death

4. “You already possess everything necessary to become great.” – Crow

Native American Quotes about greatness

5. “Even a small mouse has anger.” – Tribe Unknown

Native American Quotes about anger

6. “Man’s law changes with his understanding of man. Only the laws of the spirit remain always the same.” – Crow

Wise Native American quotes about man

7. “All dreams spin out from the same web.” – Hopi

Wise Native American quotes about dreams

8. “It does not require many words to speak the truth.” – Chief Joseph, Nez Perce

Native American quotes about the truth

9. “Don’t be afraid to cry. It will free your mind of sorrowful thoughts.” – Hopi

Native American quotes about crying

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

Native American quotes that make you think

11. “Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand.” – Tribe Unknown

Native American quotes and proverbs

12. “Day and night cannot dwell together.” – Duwamish

Native American quotes about day and night

13. “How smooth must be the language of the whites, when they can make right look like wrong, and wrong like right.” – Black Hawk, Sauk

Native American quotes about whites

Native American quotes and proverbs about community

14. “One finger cannot lift a pebble.” – Hopi

short Native American quotes

15. “Remember that your children are not your own but are lent to you by the Creator.” – Mohawk

Native American quotes about children

16. “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, Oglala Lakota Sioux

great Native American quotes

17. “What is life? It is the flash of a 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.” – Blackfoot

Native American quotes about life

18. “The weakness of the enemy makes our strength. “– Cherokee

Native American quotes about enemies

19. “All plants are our brothers and sisters. They talk to us and if we listen, we can hear them.” – Arapaho

Native American quotes about plants

20. “Children learn from what they see. We need to set an example of truth and action.” – Howard Rainer, Taos Pueblo-Creek

Native American quotes about truth

21. “They are not dead who live in the hearts they leave behind.” – Tuscarora

Native American quotes about death

22. “I have seen that in any great undertaking it is not enough for a man to depend simply upon himself.” – Shooter Teton Sioux

Native American quotes to inspire you

Insightful Native American quotes and proverbs

23. “Those that lie down with dogs, get up with fleas.” – Blackfoot

Native American quotes to make you wiser

24. “Most of us do not look as handsome to others as we do to ourselves.” – Assiniboine

Native American quotes about beauty

25. “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

powerful Native American quotes

26. “Force, no matter how concealed, begets resistance.” – Lakota

Native American quotes about resistance

27. “Our first teacher is our own heart.” – Cheyenne

heartfelt Native American quotes

28. “Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark.” – Cheyenne

Native American quotes to inspire and teach

29. “Everyone who is successful must have dreamed of something.” – Maricopa 

Native American quotes about success

30. “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 Tribe

Native American quotes about knowing yourself

31. “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

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32. “Owning land is like owning the ocean, or the air. no one owns land.”― Tamanend

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

34. “When the Earth is sick, the animals will begin to disappear, when that happens, The Warriors of the Rainbow will come to save them.” – Chief Seattle

35. “You can’t wake a person who is pretending to be asleep.” – Navajo

36. “Life is not separate from death. It only looks that way.” – Blackfoot

37. “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

Native American quotes and proverbs about respect

38. “When we show our respect for other living things, they respond with respect for us.” – Arapaho

39. “Before eating, always take time to thank the food.” – Arapaho

40. “If we wonder often, the gift of knowledge will come.” – Arapaho

41. “Poverty is a noose that strangles humility and breeds disrespect for God and man.” – Sioux

42. “Do not judge your neighbor until you walk two moons in his moccasins.” – Cheyenne

43. “All who have died are equal.” – Comanche

Native American quotes and proverbs about home

44. “Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors; we borrow it from our Children.” – Tribe Unknown

45. “One does not sell the land people walk on.” – Crazy Horse

46. “The ground on which we stand is sacred ground. It is the blood of our ancestors.” – Chief Plenty Coups, Crow

47. “Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.” — Chief Tecumseh

48. “Soon there will come from the rising sun a different kind of man from any have yet seen, who will bring with them a book and will teach you everything.” – Spokan Prophet

49. “All things share the same breath – the beast, the tree, the man, the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports.” – Chief Seattle

50. “A frog does not drink up the pond in which it lives.” – Tribe Unknown

Have you seen these community quotes about connection?

More Native American quotes and sayings

51. “We shall live again. We shall live again.” – Comanche

52. “I am a great chief among my people. If you kill me, it will be like a spark on the prairie. It will make a big fire – a terrible fire!” – Kiowa Chief Satanta

53. “When a white army battles Indians and wins, it is called a great victory, but if they lose, it is called a massacre.” – Chief Chiksika

54. “There is but one secret to success: never give up.” – Ben Nighthorse Campbell

55. “We are going by you without fighting if you will let us, but we are going by you anyhow!” – Chief Joseph

56. “We are poor, but we are free. No white man controls our footsteps. If we must die, we die defending our rights.” – Sitting Bull

Native American quotes of wisdom

57. “Like a man who has been dying for many days, a man in your city is numb to the stench.” – Chief Seattle

58. “There is a power in nature that man has ignored. And the result has been heartache and pain.” – Anasazi Foundation

59. 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

60. “Peace of mind is the meaning of life.” – Talisa Santiago

61. “I don’t want to settle. I love to roam over the prairies. There I feel free and happy, but when we settle down we grow pale and die.”  – Chief Satanta

62. “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

63. “Hold on to what is good, Even if it’s a handful of earth. Hold on to what you believe, Even if it’s a tree that stands by itself. Hold on to what you must do, Even if it’s a long way from here.”  – Crowfoot

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

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65. “Those that lie down with dogs get up with fleas.” – Blackfeet

66. ”Take only what you need and leave the land as you found it.”  – Arapaho

Native American quotes from Native American women

67. “You know that women are always looked upon as nothing, but we are your mothers, you are our sons, our cry is all for peace, let it continue. This peace must last forever.” – Nanye-hi Gighau

68. “One of the things my parents taught me, and I’ll always be grateful for the gift, is to not ever let anybody else define me.” – Wilma Mankiller

69. “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.” – Crazy Horse, Sioux Chief

70. “The land is sacred. These words are at the core of your being. The land is our mother, the rivers our blood. Take our land away and we die. That is, the Indian in us dies.” – Mary Brave Bird

71. “The homeland affects you directly: it affects your body; it affects the collective mind and the collective heart and the collective spirit.” – Joy Harjo

72. “The secret to our success is that we never give up.” – Wilma Mankiller

73. “A man who looks first to a woman’s outer beauty will never know her beauty divine, for there is dust upon his eyes and he is blind.” – White Buffalo Calf Woman

74. “The saddest day has gleams of light, The darkest wave hath bright foam beneath it. There twinkles o’er the cloudiest night, Some solitary star to cheer it.” – Sarah Winnemucca

75. “I want to be remembered as the person who helped us restore faith in ourselves.” – Wilma Mankiller
76. “When I think of my past life, and the bitter trials I have endured, I can scarcely believe I live, and yet I do; and, with the help of Him who notes the sparrow’s fall, I mean to fight for my down-trodden race while life lasts.” – Sarah Winnemucca

Native American quotes about spirituality

77. “A brave man dies but once, a coward many times.” – Iowa

78. “Sometimes dreams are wiser than waking.” – Black Elk

79. “Live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.” – Tecumseh

80. “Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.” – Tecumseh

81. “I believe much trouble and blood would be saved if we opened our hearts more.” – Chief Joseph

82. “It is the mothers not the warriors who create a people and guide their destiny.” – Luther Standing Bear

83. “Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.” – Cherokee

84. “When the green hills are covered with talking wires and the wolves no longer sing, what good will the money you paid for our land be then” – Chief Seattle

85. “None can destroy iron, but it’s own rust can! Likewise, none can destroy a person, but it’s own mindset can!” – Ratan Tata

86. “It is through this mysterious power that we too have our being, and we therefore yield to our neighbors, even to our animal neighbors, the same right as ourselves to inhabit this vast land.” – Sitting Bull

Thought-Provoking Native American Quotes

87. “It’s our stuff. We made it and we know best how to use it and care for it. And now we’re going to get it back.” — John Pretty on Top

88. “The Holy Land is everywhere” ― Black Elk

89. “No Statue of Liberty ever greeted our arrival in this country…we did not, in fact, come to the United States at all. The United States came to us.” ― Luis Valdez

90. “When a woman grabs my braids and says “How cute!” I crab her breast and say “How cute!” She will never touch me again!” ― Russell Means

91. “Our job is to awaken people…utterly conscious, to attend to our world.” ― Louis Owens

92. “If I want my people to be free, Americans have to be free. ” ― Russell Means

93. “No kingdom on Earth can surpass the great outdoors.” ― Tamanend

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

95. “A fire is a nice idea. But won’t we be spending the evening under the covers?” ― D.D. Ayres

96. “If you were going to compete successfully in a white man’s world, you had to learn to play the white man’s game. It was not enough that an Indian be as good as; an Indian had to be better than.” ― Janet Campbell Hale

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Native American Quotes About Their Wise Nature

97. “Wisdom and peace come when you start living the life the creator intended for you.” — Geronimo

98. “Religion is for people who’re afraid of going to hell. Spirituality is for those who’ve already been there.” — Vine Deloria Jr.

99. “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

100. “Nature is not dumb. Humanity is dumb when we can’t hear or when we forget how to communicate with nature. Nature is very much alive. Intelligent living beings and vibrant energies are all over the planet.” — Sun Bear

101. “The reality is that every time we manipulate nature’s rhythms, we create unintended consequences that then require us to make further changes.” — Glenn Aparicio Parry

102. “Another Chief remembered that since the Great Father promised them that they would never be moved they had been moved five times. “I think you had better put the Indians on wheels,” he said sardonically, “and you can run them about whenever you wish.” — Dee Brown

103. “His grandfather had often told him that he tried too hard to move trees when a wiser man would walk around them.” — Patricia Briggs

104. “Attending to your own words and ideas as well as those of others is an admirable trait in any person, but a necessity in a leader.” — Jennifer Frick-Ruppert

105. “Next to the day when I was almost shot by that arrow, the worst day of my life was when I was almost eaten.” — Jennifer Frick-Ruppert

106. “We do not want riches but we do want to train our children right.” — Makhipiya Luta

Powerful Native American Quotes

107. “The buffalo provided the fuel for fires that smoked their own meat.” ― Louise Erdrich

108. “This time, the rapids sent them through a dark tunnel that seemed timeless, blind, malevolent. A yawning throat of water.” ― Louise Erdrich

109. “To live in the moment… is the only footprint one must follow..” ― Oglala Lakota

110. “…people should have the right to be who they are and not what others tell them to be. All people should have a right to dignity and identity is an important part of this ideal.” ― Roberto Mukaro Borrero

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

112. “There are so many new skyscrapers being built in our city of rain, I wonder if everybody’s spirit animal is now the construction crane.” ― Sherman Alexie

113. “The strong old woman was walking away, and in her step there was the sadness of parting with an old but dangerously foolish friend.” ― Louise Erdrich

114. “Unless you are an American Indian, you are a descendant of an immigrant yourself.” ― Abhijit Naskar

115. “There are 566 Indian tribes, bands, and Alaska Native villages recognized by the BIA, and no one could be expected to know the name of every one.” ― Mark Edwin Miller

116. “We’ve all been through a lot we don’t understand in a world made to either break us or make us so hard we can’t break even when it’s what we need most to do.” ― Tommy Orange

What did you learn from these Native American quotes and proverbs?

In the busy world that we live in today, it can be easy to take many everyday miracles for granted.

One thing that these Native American quotes and proverbs do is remind us that life is sacred.

We all age (if we’re lucky) and we are all going to die someday.

We try to forget that these things are fact instead of appreciating our existence and rejoicing in the miracle that we get to experience called life. 

Take some time today to appreciate your life.

Appreciate your community and the people that you know and love.

Appreciate your home and your country and your culture.

Appreciate the ancestors that brought you into being.

Show respect to all living things, including yourself. 

Did you enjoy these Native American quotes and proverbs?

Which quote was your favorite?

Let us know in the comment section below. 

Sckylar Gibby-Brown
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2 Comments
  1. Ernest tramil

    April 8, 2022 at 1:09 AM

    There is something mysterious about life that fills me with humility and wonderment
    I can’t quite figure it out.

  2. Robert

    February 2, 2021 at 10:58 PM

    “We’ll build a bridge of love between two worlds.”
    Pocahontas

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