50 Wise Native American Quotes on Community, Respect & More (2020)
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50 Wise Native American Quotes on Community, Respect, and More

Published on March 10, 2020 7:20 AM EST
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. 

Wise Native American Quotes on Community, Respect, and More

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

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. 

Wise Native American Quotes on Community, Respect, and More
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