Indian Wisdom

CHIEF JOSEPH PICTUREI 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, Oglala Lakota Sioux (1822-1909)

In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.

– Iroquois Maxim (circa 1700-1800)

When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.

Cree Prophecy

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
– Chief Seattle, Duwamish
(1780-1866)

Eventually one gets to the Medicine Wheel to fulfill one’s life.

– Old Mouse, Arikara

High in the Big Horn Mountains at nearly 10,000 feet above sea level, lies the Medicine Wheel (above) — a place of worship, a National Historic Site, and an archeological mystery.

It is believed that between A.D. 1200 and A.D. 1700, hundreds of limestone rocks were placed in the shape of a wheel roughly 80 feet in diameter. Twenty eight spokes radiate from a central cairn to six smaller cairns around the rim.

Who built this and why?

No one knows for sure, but Native American beliefs and archeological evidence point to its use as a spiritual site. Many people still come to the Medicine Wheel and Medicine Mountain for inspiration, solitude, meditation and vision questing.

The Medicine Wheel was given protection and nominated to the National Register by local Big Horn Basin communities. The site is protected by federal antiquity laws under administration of the Forest Service.

– site placard

The ground on which we stand is sacred ground. It is the dust and blood of our ancestors.

– Chief Plenty Coups, Crow (1848 – 1932)

WARRIORThe song that I will sing is an old song, so old that none knows who made it. It has been handed down through generations and was taught to me when I was but a little lad. It is now my own song. It belongs to me. This is a holy song (medicine-song), and great is its power. The song tells how, as I sing, I go through the air to a holy place where Yusun (The Supreme Being) will give me power to do wonderful things. I am surrounded by little clouds, and as I go through the air I change, becoming spirit only.

– Geronimo, Apache (1829-1909)

DAN GEORGEThe 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, Tsleil-Waututh (1899 – 1981)

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 (1863-1950)

 

Children were encouraged to develop strict discipline and a high regard for sharing.

When a girl picked her first berries and dug her first roots, they were given away to an elder so she would share her future success.

When a child carried water for the home, an elder would give compliments, pretending to taste meat in water carried by a boy or berries in that of a girl.

The child was encouraged not to be lazy and to grow straight like a sapling.

– Mourning Dove (1888-1936)

SPIRIT WORLDBeing is a spiritual proposition. Gaining is a material act. Traditionally, American Indians have always attempted to be the best people they could. Part of that spiritual process was and is to give away wealth, to discard wealth in order not to gain.

Russell Means, Republic of Lakotah
(Activist, actor 1939-2012)

The beauty of the trees,
the softness of the air,
the fragrance of the grass,
speaks to me.

The summit of the mountain,
the thunder of the sky,
the rhythm of the sea,
speaks to me.

The strength of the fire,
the taste of salmon,
the trail of the sun,
and the life that never goes away,
they speak to me.

And my heart soars.


– Chief Dan George
, Tsleil-Waututh (1899 – 1981)

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