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 to 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, think about what you can learn from their words.
Don’t forget to also 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
2. “If a man is as wise as a serpent, he can afford to be as harmless as a dove.” – Cheyenne
3. “There is no death, only a change of worlds.” – Duwamish
4. “You already possess everything necessary to become great.” – Crow
5. “Man’s law changes with his understanding of man. Only the laws of the spirit remain always the same.” – Crow
6. “Even a small mouse has anger.” – Tribe Unknown
7. “All dreams spin out from the same web.” – Hopi
8. “It does not require many words to speak the truth.” – Chief Joseph, Nez Perce
9. “Don’t be afraid to cry. It will free your mind of sorrowful thoughts.” – Hopi
10. “It is better to have less thunder in the mouth and more lightning in the hand.” – Apache
11. “Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand.” – Tribe Unknown
12. “Day and night cannot dwell together.” – Duwamish
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 and proverbs about community
14. “One finger cannot lift a pebble.” – Hopi
15. “Remember that your children are not your own but are lent to you by the Creator.” – Mohawk
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
17. “He who would do great things should not attempt them all alone.” – Seneca
18. “The weakness of the enemy makes our strength. “– Cherokee
19. “I am poor and naked, but I am the chief of the nation. 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.” – Red Cloud, Makhpiya-luta
20. “Children learn from what they see. We need to set an example of truth and action.” – Howard Rainer, Taos Pueblo-Creek
21. “Among the Indians there have been no written laws. Customs handed down from generation to generation have been the only laws to guide them. Everyone might act different from what was considered right did he choose to do so, but such acts would bring upon him the censure of the Nation…. This fear of the Nation’s censure acted as a mighty band, binding all in one social, honorable compact.” – Tecumseh Shawnee
22. “I have seen that in any great undertaking it is not enough for a man to depend simply upon himself.” – Shooter Teton Sioux
Insightful Native American quotes and proverbs
23. “Those that lie down with dogs, get up with fleas.” – Blackfoot
24. “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
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
26. “Force, no matter how concealed, begets resistance.” – Lakota
27. “Our first teacher is our own heart.” – Cheyenne
28. “Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark.” – Cheyenne
29. “Everyone who is successful must have dreamed of something.” – Maricopa
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
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
32. “You have to look deeper, way below the anger, the hurt, the hate, the jealousy, the self-pity, way down deeper where the dreams lie, son. Find your dream. It’s the pursuit of the dream that heals you.” – Billy Mills
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. “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.” – Canassatego
48. “This war did not spring up on our land, this war was brought upon us by the children of the Great Father who came to take our land without a 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
49. “We must protect the forests for our children, grandchildren and children yet to be born. We must protect the forests for those who can’t speak for themselves such as the birds, animals, fish and trees.” – Qwatsinas (Hereditary Chief Edward Moody), Nuxalk Nation
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. “They have assumed the names and gestures of their enemies, but have held on to their own, secret souls; and in this there is a resistance and an overcoming, a long outwaiting.” – N. Scott Momaday
52. “I have learned that the point of life’s walk is not where or how far I move my feet but how I am moved in my heart.” – Anasazi Foundation
53. “Our job is to be an awake people…utterly conscious, to attend to our world.” – Louis Owens
54. “There is but one secret to success: never give up.” – Ben Nighthorse Campbell
55. “This time they would find the path to love and to acceptance. This time, she would know and understand the secrets of his heart as well as those of her own.” – Janelle Taylor, Savage Ecstasy
56. “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 your 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.
May 14, 2021 6:00 AM EST