Native American words to live by

Chief Dan George

Since the beginning of mankind’s first steps on the Earth we recognized that special kinship with this beautiful, blue world. The Native American people lived on the land in harmony with the seasons and the rhythms of the creation.

Here are a few words worthy to ponder, and use as a guideline for a life well lived.

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Algonquin Tribe

The Great Spirit is in all things, he is in the air we breathe. The Great Spirit is our Father, but the Earth is our Mother. She nourishes us that which we put into the ground she returns to us….
(Big Thunder)

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Blackfoot Tribe

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.
(Crowfoot)

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Cherokee Tribe

O’ GREAT SPIRIT
help me always
to speak the truth quietly,
to listen with an open mind
when others speak,
and to remember the peace
that may be found in silence.
(Prayer)

May the Warm Winds of Heaven
Blow softly upon your house.
May the Great Spirit
Bless all who enter there.
May your Moccasins
Make happy tracks
in many snows,
and may the Rainbow
Always touch your shoulder.
(Prayer)

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Coast Salish Tribe

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)

The time will soon be here when my grandchild will long for the cry of a loon, the flash of a salmon, the whisper of spruce needles, or the screech of an eagle. But he will not make friends with any of these creatures and when his heart aches with longing he will curse me. Have I done all to keep the air fresh? Have I cared enough about the water? Have I left the eagle to soar in freedom? Have I done everything I could to earn my grandchild’s fondness?
(Chief Dan George)

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Dwamish Tribe

… 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)

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)

The wind that gave our grandfathers his first breath also receives his last sigh and the wind must also give our children the spirit of life.
(Chief Seattle)

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Hopi Tribe

Lose your temper and you lose a friend; lie and you lose yourself.
(Proverb)

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Lakota Tribe

Lakota Instructions for Living:

Friend do it this way – that is,
whatever you do in life,
do the very best you can
with both your heart and mind.

And if you do it that way,
the Power Of The Universe
will come to your assistance,
if your heart and mind are in Unity.

When one sits in the Hoop Of The People,
one must be responsible because
All of Creation is related.
And the hurt of one is the hurt of all.
And the honor of one is the honor of all.
And whatever we do effects everything in the universe.

If you do it that way – that is,
if you truly join your heart and mind
as One – whatever you ask for,
that’s the Way It’s Going To Be.
(White Buffalo)

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Mohican Tribe

When it comes time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.
(Chief Aupumut)

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Navajo Tribe

I have been to the end of the earth.
I have been to the end of the waters.
I have been to the end of the sky.
I have been to the end of the mountains.
I have found none that are not my friends.
(Proverb)

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Pawnee Tribe

In the beginning of all things, wisdom and knowledge were with the animals, for Tirawa, the One Above, did not speak directly to man. He sent certain animals to tell men that he showed himself through the beast, and that from them, and from the stars and the sun and moon should man learn.. all things tell of Tirawa.

All things in the world are two. In our minds we are two, good and evil. With our eyes we see two things, things that are fair and things that are ugly…. We have the right hand that strikes and makes for evil, and we have the left hand full of kindness, near the heart. One foot may lead us to an evil way, the other foot may lead us to a good. So are all things two, all two.
(Eagle Chief)

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Ponca Tribe

There is a road in the hearts of all of us, hidden and seldom traveled,
which leads to an unknown, secret place.

The old people came literally to love the soil,
and they sat or reclined on the ground with a feeling of
being close to a mothering power.

Their teepees were built upon the earth
and their altars were made of earth.

The soul was soothing, strengthening, cleansing and healing.
That is why the old Indian still sits upon the earth instead of
propping himself up and away from its life giving forces.

For him, to sit or lie upon the ground is to be able to think more deeply
and to feel more keenly. He can see more clearly into the mysteries of
life and come closer in kinship to other lives about him.
(Chief Luther Standing Bear)

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Pueblo Tribe

Hold On
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.
Hold on to your life,
Even if it’s easier to let go.
Hold on to my hand,
Even if someday I’ll be gone away from you.
(Prayer)

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Seneca Tribe

Brother, you say there is but one way to worship and serve the Great Spirit.
If there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about
it? Why not all agreed, as you can all read the Book?
(Sogoyewapha)

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Shawnee Tribe

According to the Native People, the Sacred Space
is the space between exhalation and inhalation.
To Walk in Balance is to have Heaven (spirituality)
and Earth (physicality) in Harmony.

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about their religion;
respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours.
Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.

Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend,
even a stranger, when in a lonely place.
Show respect to all people and grovel to none.

When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.

Abuse no one and nothing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools
and robs the spirit of its vision.
(Chief Tecumseh)

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Sioux Tribe

Then I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being.

And I say the sacred hoop of my people was one of the many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy…

But anywhere is the center of the world.
(Black Elk)

And while I stood there
I saw more than I can tell,
and I understood more than I saw;
for I was seeing in a sacred manner
the shapes of things in the spirit,
and the shape of all shapes as they must
live together like one being.
(Black Elk)

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)

It was our belief that the love of possessions is a weakness to be overcome. Its appeal is to the material part, and if allowed its way, it will in time disturb one’s spiritual balance. Therefore, 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.
(Ohiyesa)

Oh, Great Spirit
Whose voice I hear in the winds,
And whose breath gives life to all the world,
hear me, I am small and weak,
I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes ever behold
the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have
made and my ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand the things
you have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons you have
hidden in every leaf and rock.

I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother,
but to fight my greatest enemy – myself.
Make me always ready to come to you
with clean hands and straight eyes.
So when life fades, as the fading sunset,
my Spirit may come to you without shame.
(Chief Yellow Lark)

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Ute Tribe

Earth, Teach Me
Earth teach me quiet ~ as the grasses are still with new light.
Earth teach me suffering ~ as old stones suffer with memory.
Earth teach me humility ~ as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth teach me caring ~ as mothers nurture their young.
Earth teach me courage ~ as the tree that stands alone.
Earth teach me limitation ~ as the ant that crawls on the ground.
Earth teach me freedom ~ as the eagle that soars in the sky.
Earth teach me acceptance ~ as the leaves that die each fall.
Earth teach me renewal ~ as the seed that rises in the spring.
Earth teach me to forget myself ~ as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me to remember kindness ~ as dry fields weep with rain.
(Prayer)

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Other sayings …

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.
(Ancient Indian Proverb)

Respect means listening until everyone has been heard and understood, only then is there a possibility of “Balance and Harmony” the goal of Indian Spirituality.
(Dave Chief, Grandfather of Red Dog)

Honor the sacred.
Honor the Earth, our Mother.
Honor the Elders.
Honor all with whom we
share the Earth:-
Four-legged, two-legged,
winged ones,
Swimmers, crawlers,
plant and rock people.
Walk in balance and beauty.
(Native American Elder)

Certain things catch your eye,
But pursue only those
that capture your heart.
(old Indian saying)

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We are all Native peoples of the Earth. Live in harmony with creation.

Ho! Mitakuye Oyasin
We Are All Related

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