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.
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What are the benefits of reading these Native American quotes?
Many tribes were without the written word, so they carried their traditions orally—passed down from generation to generation.
Through this oral tradition, they taught wisdom from the tribal elders and proverbs about community and respect to the youth, providing lessons to learn as they grew up.
By reading these Native American quotes:
- you might also learn a new lesson
- you can gain knowledge of their customs
- you will gain a new perspective on coping with life’s challenges
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.
Check out our most popular quote article, a list of short inspirational quotes for daily inspiration.
If you enjoy this collection, check out our inspirational quotes category page.
Wise Native American quotes and proverbs
1. “Old age is not as honorable as death, but most people want it.” – Crow
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2. “If a man is as wise as a serpent, he can afford to be as harmless as a dove.” – Cheyenne
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3. “There is no death, only a change of worlds.” – Duwamish
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4. “You already possess everything necessary to become great.” – Crow
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5. “Even a small mouse has anger.” – Tribe Unknown
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6. “Man’s law changes with his understanding of man. Only the laws of the spirit remain always the same.” – Crow
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7. “All dreams spin out from the same web.” – Hopi
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8. “It does not require many words to speak the truth.” – Chief Joseph, Nez Perce
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9. “Don’t be afraid to cry. It will free your mind of sorrowful thoughts.” – Hopi
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10. “It is better to have less thunder in the mouth and more lightning in the hand.” – Apache
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11. “Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand.” – Tribe Unknown
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12. “Day and night cannot dwell together.” – Duwamish
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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
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Native American quotes and proverbs about community
14. “One finger cannot lift a pebble.” – Hopi
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15. “Remember that your children are not your own but are lent to you by the Creator.” – Mohawk
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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
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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
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18. “The weakness of the enemy makes our strength. “– Cherokee
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19. “All plants are our brothers and sisters. They talk to us and if we listen, we can hear them.” – Arapaho
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20. “Children learn from what they see. We need to set an example of truth and action.” – Howard Rainer, Taos Pueblo-Creek
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21. “They are not dead who live in the hearts they leave behind.” – Tuscarora
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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. “Most of us do not look as handsome to others as we do to ourselves.” – Assiniboine
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 Tribe
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. “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
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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
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
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
Native American Quotes to Sharpen Your Wit
117. “At the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit. And that center is really everywhere. It is within each of us.” ― Black Elk
118. “He put in your heart certain wishes and plans; in my heart he put other different desires.” ― Sitting Bull
119. “Let me be a free man – free to travel, free to stop, free to work.” ― Chief Joseph
120. “If you walk the footsteps of a stranger, you’ll learn things you never knew you never knew.” ― Pocahontas
121. “Everything the Power of the World does is done in a circle.” ― Black Elk
122. “You cannot really conceive of how insulting it is to Native Americans to be told they were discovered.” ― Ivan van Sertima
123. “Even the people who come our way look upon us in amazement, that we run only for the healing of Mother Earth.” ― Dennis Banks
124. “Wonder what opportunities you pass, unwittingly, because your hands are so busy clasping what you think you have always known.” ― Mary Anne Radmacher
125. “Like the grasses showing tender faces to each other, thus should we do, for this was the wish of the Grandfathers of the World.” ― Black Elk
126. “Tribe follows tribe, nations follow nations like the tides of the sea. It is the order of nature, and regret is useless.” ― Chief Seattle
Inspirational Native American Quotes
127. “Who does not move forward recedes”― Angeline Boulley
128. “A man who would not love his father’s grave is worse than a wild animal.”― Chief Joseph
129. “Respect for the environment, and respect for what was naturally occurring in nature: that was the bedrock of all original peoples. Harmony, coexistence, not conquest and conquer.”― L.A. Banks
130. “Celebrating what we hope for together is better than fighting over what we believe separately.”― Steven Charleston
131. “Be selective in your battles, sometimes peace is better than being right.”
― Chief John Shenandoah
132. “Our job is to be an awake people…utterly conscious, to attend to our world.”
― Louis Owens
133. “We are only atoms trailing the carved skull wrapped inside a sunbeam.”
― Sherwin Bitsui
134. “There is but one secret to success: never give up.”― Ben Nighthorse Campbell
135. “When the blood in your veins returns to the sea, and the earth in your bones returns to the ground, perhaps then you will remember that this land does not belong to you, it is you who belong to the land.”― Native American Proverb
Native American quotes about life and death
136. “The greatest achievement ever accomplished in this universe is life on earth. Let’s take care of it.”― Wald Wassermann
137. ”Pay attention to the whispers, so we won’t have to listen to the screams.” – Cherokee
138. “When a man moves away from nature his heart becomes hard.” – Lakota
139. ”It is not necessary for eagles to be crows.” – Chief Sitting Bull
140. “The greatest power is the Creator. But, if you want to know the greatest strength… That is gentleness.” – Chief Leon Shenandoah
141. ”The Earth and myself are of one mind.” – Chief Joseph
142. ”Each man is good in the sight of the Great Spirit.” – Chief Sitting Bull
143. ”Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.” – Chief Tecumseh
144. ”The Red Man has ever fled the approach of the White Man, as the morning mist flees before the morning sun.” – Chief Seattle
145. “I cannot think that we are useless or God would not have created us.” – Chief Geronimo
All-Time Native American Quotes You Can Learn From
146. “Civilization has been thrust upon me… and it has not added one whit to my love for truth, honesty, and generosity.” — Sioux
147. “The earth does not belong to us. We belong to the earth.” — Chief Seattle
148. “It’s not good for anyone to be alone.” — Cheyenne
149. “The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it.” — Chief Joseph
150. “It is less of a problem to be poor than to be dishonest.” — Anishinabe
151. “Like as a man who has been dying for many days, a man in your city is numb to the stench.”— Chief Seattle
152. “Our pleasures are shallow, our sorrows are deep.” — Cheyenne
153. “The eye tells what the tongue would hide.” — Chief Joseph
154. “If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies in yourself.”— Minquass
155. “Treat all men alike. Give them the same law. Give them an even chance to live and grow.” — Chief Joseph
Native American Quotes To Live With Togetherness
155. “Everywhere is the center of the world. Everything is sacred.” ― Black Elk
156. “Brothers, we must be united; we must smoke the same pipe; we must fight each other’s battles; and more than all, we must love the Great Spirit.” ― Tecumseh
157. “We were like deer. They were like grizzly bear.” ― Chief Joseph
158. “A cold wind blew on the prairie on the day the last buffalo fell. A death wind for my people.” ― Sitting Bull
159. “If fame goes by, so long, I’ve had you, fame. If it goes by, I’ve always known it was fickle. So at least it’s something I experience, but that’s not where I live.” ― Marilyn Monroe
160. “And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people as one of many hoops that made one circle.” ― Black Elk
161. “But if the Vision was true and mighty, as I know, it is true and mighty yet;for such things are of Spirit, and it is in the darkness of their eyes that men get lost.” ― Black Elk
162. “I know Great Spirit is looking down upon me from above, and will hear what I say.” ― Sitting Bull
163. “The power of the world always works in circles.” ― Black Elk
164. “I was very sorry when I found out that your intentions were good and not what I supposed they were.” ― Sitting Bull
Native American Quotes Of All The Time
165. “To be native to a place we must learn to speak its language.”― Robin Wall Kimmerer
166. “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
167. “Allow the power to flow through you. Don’t try to capture it. You wish only to borrow it.” ― G.G. Collins
168. “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
169. “No. But then the American Government–whatever branch–has never really grasped the concept of tribal identity.” ― Laurell K. Hamilton
170. “Everybody’s creative. We create our songs and our paintings, our families and our children. Every one of us is on the cutting edge of the future.” ― Buffy Sainte-Marie
171. “That is, an artist who creates lots of work probably experiences prolific days and slower days.” ― Buffy Sainte-Marie
172. “We danced, the way Kiowas danced, when called by our people, by our ancestors, to help each other heal.” ― Oscar Hokeah
173. “He wondered if he would ever see the inside of one of those houses whose great windows blared sheaves of light. They made huge blurred spears that reached out into the balmy spring darkness.” ― Louise Erdrich
174. “When you hear stories from other people like you, you feel less alone. When you feel less alone, and like you have a community of people behind you, alongside you, I believe you can live a better life.” ― Tommy Orange
Native American Quotes To Define You Culture
175. “If the white man wants to live in peace with the Indian he can live in peace.” ― Chief Joseph
176. “There’s all sorts of soul. There’s Irish soul and Native American soul. If it touches you and moves you, it’s soul.” ― John Oates
177. “By peace our condition has been improved in the pursuit of civilized life.” ― John Ross
178. “I have good genes. My father is Danish and my mother is Irish and Native American. They both have good skin.” ― Virginia Madsen
179. “The word is important in Native American tradition. You speak the path on which you walk. Your words make the trail.” ― Diane Glancy
180. “I’m half Native American and half white so I think I can adjust culturally to anything.” ― Jacoby Ellsbury
181. “Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.” ― Chief Joseph
182. “I will obey every law, or submit to the penalty.” ― Chief Joseph
183. “Character is always known. Thefts never enrich; alms never impoverish; murder will speak out of stone walls.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
184. “When it comes down to pure ornamental cursing, the native American is gifted above the sons of men.” ― Mark Twain
What did you learn from these Native American quotes and proverbs?
In the busy world that we live in today, it’s 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 facts 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.
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January 26, 2023 5:00 AM EST