Native Intelligence


Upon suffering beyond suffering: the Red Nation shall rise again and it shall be a blessing for a sick world. A world filled with broken promises, selfishness and separations. A world longing for light again. I see a time of Seven Generations when all the colors of mankind will gather under the Sacred Tree of Life and the whole Earth will become one circle again. In that day, there will be those among the Lakota who will carry knowledge and understanding of unity among all living things and the young white ones will come to those of my people and ask for this wisdom. I salute the light within your eyes where the whole Universe dwells. For when you are at that center within you and I am that place within me, we shall be one. — Crazy Horse, Oglala Lakota

We may be different tribes, but we're all brothers and sisters. — Opal Gore, Comanche

Nine out of 10 people think that as a Native American woman, I'm supposed to look like either that Land-O-Lakes butter girl, or Disney's Pocahontas. — Charlotte Chinanao, Dineh and Jemez

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. — Black Elk, Oglala Lakota

We must act as a guardian of our rights. — Willie Littlechild, Cree

My children, you have forgotten the customs and traditions of your forefathers. You have bought guns, knives, kettles, and blankets from the white man until you can no longer do without them; and what is worse you have drunk the poison firewater, which turns you into fools. Fling all these things away; live as your forefathers did before you. — Pontiac, Odowa

I believe ancestors strengthen us and make us who we are. — Cea Anderson, Aleut/Lakota

Our children were never known to cry of hunger, and no stranger, red or white, was permitted to enter our lodges without finding food and rest. — Black Hawk, Sauk

We are not as isolated and uneducated as we once were. We have lawyers; we have political rights and a special political status. No longer do we allow encroachment within our own boundaries. — Ken Davis, Chippewa

Remember that I am just a woman who is living a very abundant life. Every step I take forward is on a path paved by strong Indian women before me. — Wilma Mankiller, Cherokee

The Great Spirit raised both the white man and the Indian. I think he raised the Indian first. He raised me in this land, it belongs to me. The white man was raised over the great waters, and his land is over there. — Red Cloud, Oglala Lakota

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, Crow

We are not myths of the past, ruins in the jungle, or zoo. We are people and we want to be respected, not to be victims of intolerance and racism. — Rigoberta Menchu, Quiche

‘Indian policy’ has now been brought down upon the American people, and the American people are the new Indians of the 21st century. — Russell Means, Oglala Lakota

Our traditional Native laws supersede state, county and federal law. We have a lot of power. — Antoinette Red Woman, Tsisistas Northern Cheyenne

[Americans are] strangers we invited for dinner 500 years ago that are still here. — Dovie Thomason, Kiowa/Apache/Lakota

Familial bonds are paramount among the Tununak, as in most Native cultures. More than 90 percent of the tribe’s village was wiped out during the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918, and just 400 Tununak remain today.

Family bonds and community are of tremendous importance in Native cultures.

My elders said, ‘Know where your water comes from. Know your fire. Know where you are going to find your food.’ — Grandmother Mona Polacca, Hopi/Havasupai

I'm just a human being trying to make it in a world that is very rapidly losing it's understanding of being human. — John Trudell,

Among the Indians there have been no written laws. Customs handed down from generation to generation have been the only laws to guide them. Every one 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. — Chief George Copway, Ojibwa

It's impossible to write about Native life without humor—that's how people maintain sanity. — Louise Erdrich, Chippewa

If I had known that Andrew Jackson would drive us from our homes, I would have killed him that day at Horseshoe Bend. — Junaluska, Cherokee

Broken promises to Indians. The cycle does repeat itself, doesn't it? — Chief Ken Adams, Upper Mattaponi

Native people have learned the white man's ways; now they have to learn ours. — Janice Toulouse Shingwaak, Ojibwe/Anishinabe/Kwe

Our churches are being attacked and our people can't go to them to pray. It's a fight against white men with gold in their eyes. — Suzan Shown Harjo, Cheyenne/Muscogee

How smooth must be the language of the whites, when they can make right look like wrong, and wrong like right. — Black Hawk, Sauk

I think sometimes people have a hard time accepting that the United States is the homeland of indigenous people. This is where the Creator placed us. And people get very angry and upset about the rights we have. If we shouldn't have rights, then who should? — Venida Chenault, Potawatomi

Traditions are not laws. They're just agreements that people agree to do certain things at certain times with each other to keep order, harmony.... Traditions have to bend and flex, and they have to meet the needs of the people in the current times. — Howard Bad Hand, Sicangu Lakota

We were taught generosity to the poor and reverence for the Great Mystery. Religion was the basis of all Indian training. — Charles A. Eastman, Santee Dakota

Martin Luther King said, ‘I have a dream.’ But we Indians didn't have a dream. We had a reality. — Ben Black Elk, Oglala Lakota

I will follow the white man's trail. I will make him my friend, but I will not bend my back to his burdens. I will be cunning as a coyote. I will ask him to help me understand his ways, then I will prepare the way for my children, and their children. The Great Spirit has shown me that a day will come when they will outrun the white man in his own shoes. — Many Horses, Oglala Lakkota

There's only one thing that separates us from our ancestors, and that's time. — Andrew Abyo, Alutiiq/Aleut

I have heard you intend to settle us on a reservation near the mountains. 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. — Satanta, Kiowa

The true Indian sets no price upon either his property or his labor. His generosity is limited only by his strength and ability. He regards it as an honor to be selected for difficult or dangerous service and would think it shameful to ask for any reward, saying rather: ‘Let the person I serve express his thanks according to his own bringing up and his sense of honor.’ ― Charles Alexander Eastman, Santee Dakota

We go as fast as the slowest person. The warriors need to lead from the back. — Phillip Whiteman, Northern Cheyenne

I am tired of fighting...from where the sun now stands, I will fight no more. — Chief Joseph, Nez Perce

They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they never kept but one; they promised to take our land, and they took it. — Red Cloud, Oglala Lakota

When an elder is gone, what he knows, the songs, the history, whatever he didn't set down, that knowledge is buried underneath the ground. — Danny Lopez, Tohono O'odham

The three supermoons of summer will give us spring tides.

A beautiful moon.