Native American Wisdom Quotes
"A Native American and his friend were walking through Times Square in midtown New York during lunch hour. The streets were filled with people. Cars were honking their horns, taxicabs were squealing around corners, sirens were wailing, and the sounds of the city were almost deafening. Suddenly, the Native American said, “I hear a cricket.”
His friend said, “What? You must be crazy. You couldn’t possibly hear a cricket in all this noise!”
“No, I’m sure of it,” the Native American said, “I hear a cricket.”
“That’s crazy,” his friend insisted.
The Native American listened carefully for a moment and then walked across the street to a big cement planter filled with shrubs. He looked under the branches and, sure enough, he found a small cricket. His friend was utterly amazed.
“That’s incredible,” his friend said. “You must have superhuman ears!”
“No,” the Native American said. “My ears are no different from yours. It all depends on what you’re listening for.”
“But that can’t be!” said the friend. “I could never hear a cricket in this noise.”
“Yes, that’s true,” came the reply. “It depends on what is really important to you. Here, let me show you.”
He reached into his pocket, pulled out a few coins, and discreetly dropped them on the sidewalk. Then, with the noise of the crowded street still blaring in their ears, they noticed every head within twenty feet turn and look to see if the money that had tinkled on the pavement was theirs.
“See what I mean?” asked the Native American. “It all depends on what’s important to you.”
― Native American wisdom story told by Sacinandana Swami
“His grandfather had often told him that he tried too hard to move trees when a wiser man would walk around them.”
― Patricia Briggs, Native American wisdom quote from "Hunting Ground"
“I believe much trouble and blood would be saved if we opened our hearts more.”
― Chief Joseph
“It was our belief that the love of possessions is a weakness to be overcome. . . . Children must early learn the beauty of generosity. They are taught to give what they prize most, that they may taste the happiness of giving. . . . The Indians in their simplicity literally give away all that they have—to relatives, to guests of other tribes or clans, but above all to the poor and the aged, from whom they can hope for no return.”
― Charles Alexander Eastman Native American wisdom quote
“To encounter the sacred is to be alive at the deepest center of human existence. Sacred places are the truest definitions of the earth; they stand for the earth immediately and forever; they are its flags and shields. If you would know the earth for what it really is, learn it through its sacred places. At Devil’s Tower or Canyon de Chelly or the Cahokia Mounds, you touch the pulse of the living planet; you feel its breath upon you. You become one with a spirit that pervades geologic time and space.”
― N. Scott Momaday
“Before our white brothers arrived to make us civilized men, we didn't have any kind of prison. Because of this, we had no delinquents. We had no locks nor keys and therefore among us there were no thieves. When someone was so poor that he couldn't afford a horse, a tent or a blanket, he would, in that case, receive it all as a gift. We were too uncivilized to give great importance to private property. We didn't know any kind of money and consequently, the value of a human being was not determined by his wealth. We had no written laws laid down, no lawyers, no politicians, therefore we were not able to cheat and swindle one another. We were really in bad shape before the white men arrived and I don't know how to explain how we were able to manage without these fundamental things that (so they tell us) are so necessary for a civilized society.”
― Lame Deer, Native American wisdom quote
“If we wonder often, the gift of knowledge will come. If we never wonder, knowledge will never find us.”
“Out of the Indian approach to life there came a great freedom, an intense and absorbing respect for life, enriching faith in a Supreme Power, and principles of truth, honesty, generosity, equity and brotherhood as a guide to mundane relations.”
― Luther Standing Bear
“Treat all men alike.... give them all the same law. Give them all an even chance to live and grow. You might as well expect the rivers to run backward as that any man who is born a free man should be contented when penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases. We only ask an even chance to live as other men live. We ask to be recognized as men. Let me be a free man...free to travel... free to stop...free to work...free to choose my own teachers...free to follow the religion of my Fathers...free to think and talk and act for myself.”
― Dee Brown, Native American wisdom quote from "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West"
“In my opinion, it was chiefly owing to their deep contemplation in their silent retreats in the days of youth that the old Indian orators acquired the habit of carefully arranging their thoughts.
They listened to the warbling of birds and noted the grandeur and the beauties of the forest. The majestic clouds—which appear like mountains of granite floating in the air—the golden tints of a summer evening sky, and the changes of nature, possessed a mysterious significance.
All of this combined to furnish ample matter for reflection to the contemplating youth.”
― Francis Assikinack, Native American wisdom quote