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Last updated on December 10th, 2019
Native American Nations have a rich oral history dating before the pre-colonial era. Part of that history are quotes from our ancestors. Learn from our past to change our future.
Here are some beautiful quotes from great leaders and warrior; more than about subjugation but about the Spirit, the Self, life, and Oneness.
On Oneness and the Spirit Within
Crazy Horse (1840-1877) – Oglala Lakota Sioux
Among these quotes is a personal favorite coming from the Crazy Horse (1840-1877), a great warrior against white settlers' subjugation and abuse of power. He has seen and participated in many battles such as the Fort Laramie Treaty in 1868 – Fetterman Massacre and Battle of the Little Bighorn.
He was legendary within and outside the Lakota nation as a great warrior and defender of the sacred lands and native way of life. Here is the quote on suffering above suffering as well as a farewell to a friend, Sitting Bull:
“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.”
He was quoted saying this while he was with Sitting Bull, smoking the Sacred Pipe for the last time before his arrest and subsequent death.
On Contemplation on Life
Life is sacred to the Native Americans. But they also know how short it can be. And most of the quotes of wisdom from tribal leaders was to make the most of it with both enjoyment and purpose.
“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.”
“When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.”
“Our first teacher is our own heart.”
On Self Realization and Actualization
Chief Seattle (1780 – 1866) Duwamish Tribe
Chief Seattle was the tribal of the Duwamish natives with ancestral homelands in Washington state including the City of Seattle. The city was named after him. He was a respected leader and a well-known ecologist. He kept a peaceful path with the white settlers through mutual respect and cooperation.
He is well known and still remembered for his wisdom, ecological writings on the responsibilities as well as respect for Native American and their rights to the indigenous homelands. His wisdom on self-realization and actualizing dreams belong to the classic in our pursuit of dreams and purpose in life. Exactly what Native American life is all about.
“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.”
Billy Mills (Makata Taka Hela – 1938 – ) Oglala-Lakota
Billy Mills is the first and only American athlete to win Olympic gold for the 10,000 meters footrace. Aside from being an Olympian, he also champions the survival of Native Americans through self-sufficiency, building self-esteem through the programs of Running Strong For America Indian Youth.
He is also an author about Lakota wisdom – Wokini: Your Journey to Happiness and Self-Understanding. He is from the Oglala-Lakota-Sioux tribe from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. One of his famous quotes was from his father –
“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.”
The following quote is historically significant. You have heard it before. This quote signaled the end of an era.
Tell General Howard I know his heart. What he told me before, I have it in my heart. I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed; Looking Glass is dead, Too-hul-hul-sote is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say yes or no. He who led on the young men is dead. It is cold, and we have no blankets; the little children are freezing to death.
My people, some of them, have run away to the hills, and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are—perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children, to see how many I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.
Native American wisdom is profoundly universal.
It demonstrates how deeply contemplative yet pragmatic as well as respectful the different cultures are, to people, tribes and nature.
Never forget the richness of the Native American heritage.
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