August 25th, 2015 Last Updated on: February 28th, 2022
by Dawn Karima, Native American Culture Editor
Water is Life. Native Americans know and have always known that Water is Good Medicine. As water comes under attack in Native American communities and all over the world, the words of our Elders, Ancestors and Leaders empower us all to protect and preserve clean water!
1) “Our land is more valuable than your money.
It will last forever.
It will not even perish by the flames of fire.
As long as the sun shines and the waters flow, this land will be here to give life to men and animals.”
–Chief Crowfoot, Siksika (1825-1890)
2) “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.”
3) “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, Tsleil-Waututh (1899 – 1981)
4) “Among our Potawatomi people, women are the Keepers of Water. We carry the sacred water to ceremonies and act on its behalf. “Women have a natural bond with water, because we are both life bearers,” my sister said. “We carry our babies in internal ponds and they come forth into the world on a wave of water. It is our responsibility to safeguard the water for all our relations.”
― Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants
5) “The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives.”
—Native American Proverb
6) “Someone needs to explain to me why wanting clean drinking water makes you an activist, and why proposing to destroy water with chemical warfare doesn't make a corporation a terrorist.”
— Winona LaDuke, Anishinaabe
7) “In Iroquois society, leaders are encouraged to remember seven generations in the past and consider seven generations in the future when making decisions that affect the people.”
–Wilma Mankiller, Cherokee
8) “What is this you call property? It cannot be the earth, for the land is our mother, nourishing all her children, beasts, birds, fish and all men. The woods, the streams, everything on it belongs to everybody and is for the use of all. How can one man say it belongs only to him?”
9) “We do not own the freshness of the air or the sparkle of the water. How can you buy them from us?”
— Chief Sealth
10) “Water is sacred. Drink something sacred. This is my campaign to get Natives to drink more water. If it works, it will all be worth it.”
–Duane Brayboy-Williams, Tuscarora
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