"The white people, are trying to make us over into their image, they want us to be what they call "assimilated," bringing the Indians into the mainstream and destroying our own way of life and our own cultural patterns. They believe we should be contented like those whose concept of happiness is materialistic and greedy, which is very different from our way. We want freedom from the white man rather than to be intergrated. We don't want any part of the establishment, we want to be free to raise our children in our religion, in our ways, to be able to hunt and fish and live in peace. We don't want power, we don't want to be congressmen, or bankers... we want to be ourselves. We want to have our heritage, because we are the owners of this land and because we belong here. The white man says, there is freedom and justice for all. We have had "freedom and justice," and that is why we have been almost exterminated. We shall not forget this."

~ UNKNOWN SPEAKER ~
(1927 Grand Council of American Indians)

 



 



"What treaty have the Sioux made with the white man that we have broken? Not one. What treaty have the white men ever made with us that they have kept? Not one. When I was a boy the Sioux owned the world; the sun rose and set on their land; they sent ten thousand men to battle. Where are the warriors today? Who slew them? Where are our lands? Who owns them? What law have I broken? Is it wrong for me to love my own? Is it wicked for me because my skin is red? Because I am a Sioux; because I was born where my father lived; because I would die for my people and my country?"

~ SITTING BULL, SIOUX ~

 



 



"Only after the last tree has been cut down, Only after the last river has been poisoned, Only after the last fish has been caught, Only then will you find money cannot be eaten."

~ CREE PROPHECY ~

 



 



"Look at the faces of my people. You will find expressions of love and despair, hope and joy, sadness and desire, and all the human feelings that live in the hearts of people of all colours. Yet, the heart never knows the colour of the skin."

~ CHIEF DAN GEORGE ~

 



 



"Remember that your children are not your own, but are lent to you by the Creator."

~ MOHAWK TRIBE ~

 



 



"Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth for the other. Now there is no more loneliness, for each of you will be companion for the other. Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you. Go now to your dwelling, to enter into the days of your life together. And may your days be good, and long upon the earth."

~ APACHE WEDDING CEREMONY ~

 



 



"Wisdom comes only when you stop looking for it and start living the life the Creator intended for you."

~ HOPI TRIBE ~

 



 



"As you go through life, act in a way as to not deprive others of happiness. Avoid giving sorrow to your fellow man, but to the contrary, see that you give him joy as often as you can."

~ SIOUX PROVERB ~

 



 



"For us, warriors are not what you think of as warriors. The warrior is not someone who fights, because no one has the right to take another's life. The warrior, for us, is one who sacrifices himself for the good of others. His task is to take care of the elderly, the defenseless, those who cannot provide for themselves, and above all, the children, the future of humanity."

~ SITTING BULL, SIOUX ~

 



 



"There can never be peace between nations until it is first known that true peace is within the souls of men."

~ OGLALA SIOUX TRIBE ~

 



 



"No tribe has the right to sell, even to each other, much less to strangers... sell a country! Why not sell the air, the great sea, as well as the earth? Didn't the Great Spirit make them all for the use of his children? The way, the only way to stop this evil is for the red man to unite in claiming a common and equal right in the land, as it was first, and should be now, for it was never divided. We gave them forest-clad mountains and valleys full of game, and in return what did they give our warriors and our women? Rum, trinkets, and a grave."

~ TECUMSEH - SHAWNEE ~

 



 



"After the devastation of tribal economies and the deliberate creation of tribal dependence on the services provided by this agency, this agency set out to destroy all things Indian... This agency forbade the speaking of Indian languages, prohibited the conduct of traditional religious activities, outlawed traditional government, and made Indian people ashamed of who they were. Worst of all, the Bureau of Indian Affairs committed these acts against the children entrusted to its boarding schools, brutalizing them emotionally, psychologically, physically, and spiritually... The trauma of shame, fear and anger has passed from one generation to the next, and manifests itself in the rampant alcoholism, drug abuse, and domestic violence that plague Indian country. Many of our people live lives of unrelenting tragedy as Indian families suffer the ruin of lives by alcoholism, suicides made of shame and despair, and violent death at the hands of one another. So many of the maladies suffered today in Indian country result from the failures of this agency. Poverty, ignorance, and disease have been the product of this agency's work."

~ KEVIN GOVER ~
(Assistant Secretary - Bureau of Indian Affairs)

 



 



"If you talk to the animals they will talk with you, and you will know each other. If you do not talk to them you will not know them, and what you do not know, you will fear. What one fears, one destroys."

~ CHIEF DAN GEORGE ~

 



 



"Everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian theory of existence."

~ MOURNING DOVE ~

 



 



These were the words given to my great-grandfather by the Master of Life: "At some time there shall come among you a stranger, speaking a language you do not understand. He will try to buy the land from you, but do not sell it; keep it for an inheritance to your children."

~ ASEENEWUB, OJIBWA ~

 



 



"Martin Luther King said, 'I have a dream.' But we Indians didn't have a dream. We had a reality."

~ BLACK ELK ~

 



 



"The white people never cared for the land or deer or bear. When we Indians kill meat, we eat it all up. When we dig roots, we make little holes. When we build houses, we make little holes. When we burn grass for grasshoppers, we don't ruin things. We shake down acorns and pinenuts. We don't chop down the trees. We only use dead wood. But the white people plow up the ground, pull down the trees, kill everything. The tree says, "Don't. I am sore. Don't hurt me." But they chop it down and cut it up. The spirit of the land hates them. They blast out trees and stir it up to its depths. They saw up the trees. That hurts them. The Indians never hurt anything, but the white people destroy all. They blast rocks and scatter them on the ground. The rock says, "Don't! You are hurting me." But the white people pay no attention. When the Indians use rocks, they take the little round ones for their cooking. How can the spirit of the earth like the white man? Everywhere the white man has touched it, it is sore."

~ WINTU WOMAN, 19th CENTURY ~

 



 



An American Indian elder described his own inner struggles this way: "Inside of me there two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time." When asked which dog wins, he reflected for a moment and replied, "The one I feed the most."

~ UNKNOWN SOURCE ~

 



 



"We also have a religion which was given to our forefathers, and has been handed down to us... their children. It teaches us to be thankful, to be united, and to love one another! We never quarrel about religion."

~ SOGOYEWAPHA, RED JACKET ~

 



 



"The West didn't get wild until the white people got there. There's no such word as wild in the Indian languages. The closest we can get to it is the word free. We were free people."

~ OREN R. LYONS, ONANDAGA ~

 



 



"If today I had a young mind to direct, to start on the journey of life, and I was faced with the duty of choosing between the natural way of my forefathers and that of the... present way of civilization, I would, for its welfare, unhesitatingly set that child's feet in the path of my forefathers. I would raise him to be an Indian!"

~ TOM BROWN JR, THE TRACKER ~

 



 



"Today is a good day to fight - today is a good day to die."

~ CRAZY HORSE, SIOUX ~

 



 



"Many people ask why we fight the white man's war. Our answer is that we are proud to be Americans. We're proud to be American Indians. We always stand ready when our country needs us."

~ RAYMOND NAKAI ~
(Former Navajo Code Talker)

 



 



"Our treatment of Indians, still affects the national consciousness. It seems a basic requirement to study the history of Indian people. Only through this study can we as a nation do what must be done if our treatment of the American Indian is not to be marked down for all time as a national disgrace."

~ JOHN F. KENNEDY ~

 



 



"It is difficult to comprehend the magnitude of the atrocities - intentional, neglectful, or accidental - perpetuated on Indian people by the conquering culture, and later by the very government that assumed responsibility for their protection."

~ BEN NIGHTHORSE CAMPBELL, CHEYENNE ~

 



 



"The Earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected, like the blood which unites us all."

~ CHIEF SEATTLE ~

 



 



"Will you ever begin to understand the meaning of the very soil beneath your feet? From a grain of sand to a great mountain, all is scared. Yesterday and tomorrow exist eternally upon this continent. We natives are guardians of this scared place."

~ PETER BLUE CLOUD, MOHAWK ~

 



 



"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, WABANAKI ALGONQUIN ~

 



 



"I was hostile to the white man. We preferred hunting to a life of idleness on our reservations. At times we did not get enough to eat and we were not allowed to hunt. All we wanted was peace and to be let alone. Soldiers came in the winter and destroyed our villages. Then Long Hair (Custer) came. They said we massacred him, but he would have done the same to us. Our first impulse was to escape but we were so hemmed in we had to fight. After that I lived in peace, but the government would not let me alone. I was not allowed to remain quiet. I was tired of fighting. They tried to confine me and a soldier ran his bayonet into me. I have spoken."

~ CRAZY HORSE, SIOUX ~

 



 



"Our land is everything to us... I will tell you one of the things we remember on our land. We remember that our grandfathers paid for it - with their lives."

~ JOHN WOODEN LEGS, CHEYENNE ~

 



 



"I am a red man. If the Great Spirit had desired me to be a white man he would have made me so in the first place. He put in your heart certain wishes and plans, in my heart he put other and different desires. Each man is good in his sight. It is not necessary for Eagles to be Crows. We are poor but we are free. No white man controls our footsteps. If we must die... we die defending our rights."

~ SITTING BULL, SIOUX ~

 


 



"Once I was in Victoria, and I saw a very large house. They told me it was a bank and that the white men place their money there to be taken care of, and that by and by they got it back with interest. We are Indians and we have no such bank; but when we have plenty of money or blankets, we give them away to other chiefs and people, and by and by they return them with interest, and our hearts feel good. Our way of giving is our bank."

~ CHIEF MAQUINNA, NOOTKA ~

 



 



"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, MOHICAN ~

 



 



"The land is sacred. These words are at the core of your being. The land is our mother, the rivers our blood. Take our land away and we die. That is, the Indian in us dies."

~ MARY BRAVE BIRD ~

 



 



"I love this land and the buffalo and will not part with it. I want you to understand well what I say. Write it on paper... I hear a great deal of good talk from the gentlemen the Great Father sends us, but they never do what they say. I don't want any of the medicine lodges (schools and churches) within the country. I want the children raised as I was. 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. A long time ago this land belonged to our fathers, but when I go up to the river I see camps of soldiers on its banks. These soldiers cut down my timber, they kill my buffalo and when I see that, my heart feels like bursting."

~ CHIEF SANTANA, KIOWA ~

 



 



"If you really want a flag that represents slavery and oppression, fly the U.S. Flag. We've killed Indians with that flag. This country has done all kinds of things wrong and hidden behind that flag. No one says a thing."

~ DREW CAREY ~

 



 



"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 ~

 



 



"When the Earth is sick, the animals will begin to disappear, when that happens, The Warriors of the Rainbow will come to save them."

~ CHIEF SEATTLE ~

 



 



"In 1868, men came out and brought papers. We could not read them and they did not tell us truly what was in them. We thought the treaty was to remove the forts and for us to cease from fighting. But they wanted to send us traders on the Missouri, but we wanted traders where we were. When I reached Washington, the Great Father explained to me that the interpreters had deceived me. All I want is right and just. I 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, MAKHPIYA ~

 



 



"How smooth must be the language of the whites, when they can make right look like wrong, and wrong like right."

~ BLACK HAWK, SAUK ~

 



 



"Being Indian is an attitude, a state of mind, a way of being in harmony with all things and all beings. It is allowing the heart to be the distributor of energy on this planet; bringing aliveness up from the earth and down from the sky, putting it in and giving it out from the heart."

~ BROOKE MEDICINE EAGLE ~

 



 



"In early days we were close to nature. We judged time, weather conditions, and many things by the elements - the good earth, the blue sky, the flying of geese, and the changing winds. We looked to these for guidance and answers. Our prayers and thanksgiving were said to the four winds. To the East, from whence the new day was born; to the South, which sent the warm breeze which gave a feeling of comfort; to the West, which ended the day and brought rest; and to the North, the Mother of winter whose sharp air awakened a time of preparation for the long days ahead. We lived by God's hand through nature and evaluated the changing winds to tell us or warn us of what was ahead. Today we are again evaluating the changing winds. May we be strong in spirit and equal to our Fathers of another day in reading the signs accurately and interpreting them wisely. May Wah-Kon-Tah, the Great Spirit, look down upon us, guide us, inspire us, and give us courage and wisdom. Above all, may He look down upon us and be pleased."

~ UNKNOWN SPEAKER ~
(National Congress of American Indians 1960's)

 



 



"Thoughts are like arrows; once released, they strike their mark. Guard them well or one day you may be your own victim."

~ NAVAJO ~

 



 



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

~ CHIEF PLENTY COUPS, CROW ~

 



 



"Grandfather, Great Spirit, once more behold me on earth and lean to hear my feeble voice. You lived first, and you are older than all need, older than all prayer. All things belong to you - the two-legged, the four-legged, the wings of the air, and all green things that live. You have set the powers of the four quarters of the earth to cross each other. You have made me cross the good road and road of difficulties, and where they cross, the place is holy. Day in, day out, forevermore, you are the life of things."

~ BLACK ELK ~

 



 



"If people are genuinely interested in honoring Indians, try getting your government to live up to the more than 400 treaties it signed with our nations. Try respecting our religious freedom which has been repeatedly denied in federal courts. Try stopping the ongoing theft of Indian water and other natural resources. Try reversing your colonial process that relegates us to the most impoverished, polluted, and desperate conditions in this country. Try understanding that the mascot issue is only the tip of a very huge problem of continuing racisim against American Indians. Then maybe your "honors" will mean something. Until then, it's just so much superficial, hypocritical puffery. People should remember that an honor isn't born when it parts the honorer's lips, it is born when it is accepted in the honoree's ear."

~ GLENN T. MORRIS ~

 



 



"I have carried a heavy load on my back ever since I was a boy. I realized then that we could not hold our own with the white men. We were like deer. They were like grizzly bears. We had small country. Their country was large. We were contented to let things remain as the Great Spirit Chief made them. They were not, and would change the rivers and mountains if they did not suit them. I am tired of fighting from where the sun now stands, I will fight no more. Our fathers gave us many laws, which they had learned from their fathers. These laws were good. They told us to treat all people as they treated us; that we should never be the first to break a bargain; that it was a disgrace to tell a lie; that we should speak only the truth; that it was a shame for one man to take from another... his wife or his property without paying for it. We were contented to let things remain as the Great Spirit made them. Suppose a white man should come to me and say, "Joseph, I like your horses. I want to buy them." I say to him, "No, my horses suit me; I will not sell them." Then he goes to my neighbor and says, "Pay me money, and I will sell you Joseph's horses." The white man returns to me and says, "Joseph, I have bought your horses and you must let me have them." If we sold our lands to the government, this is the way they bought them. I am not a child, I think for myself. No man can think for me. If the white man wants to live in peace with the Indian, he can live in peace. Treat all men alike. Give them a chance to live and grow. All men were made brothers. The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it. You might as well expect the rivers to run backward as that any man who was born free should be contented when penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases. If you tie a horse to a stake, do you expect him to grow fat? If you pen an Indian up on a small spot of earth, and compel him to stay there, he will not be contented, nor will he grow and prosper. The earth and myself are of one mind. We were taught to believe that the Great Spirit sees and hears everything, and that he never forgets, that hereafter he will give every man a spirit home according to his deserts; If he has been a good man, he will have a good home; if he has been a bad man, he will have a bad home. This I believe, and all my people believe the same. Good words do not last long unless they amount to something. Words do not pay for my dead people. They do not pay for my country, now overrun by white men. They do not protect my father's grave. They do not pay for all my horses and cattle. Good words cannot give me back my children. Good words will not give my people good health and stop them from dying. Good words will not get my people a home where they can live in peace and take care of themselves. I am tired of talk that comes to nothing. It makes my heart sick when I remember all the good words and all the broken promises. There has been too much talking by men who had no right to talk. It does not require many words to speak the truth. We do not want churches because they will teach us to quarrel about God, as the Catholics and Protestants do. We do not want that. We may quarrel with men about things on earth, but we never quarrel about the Great Spirit. I believe much trouble and blood would be saved if we opened our hearts more. I will tell you in my way how the Indian sees things. The white man has more words to tell you how they look to him, but it does not require many words to seek the truth. Too many misinterpretations have been made, too many misunderstandings. The Great Spirit Chief who rules above all will smile upon this land. And this time the Indian race is waiting and praying. I am tired of talk that comes to nothing."

~ CHIEF JOSEPH ~

 



 



"The Indian survived our open intention of wiping them out. And since the tide turned they have even weathered our good intentions toward them, which can be more deadly."

~ JOHN STEINBECK ~

 



 



"We will be known by the tracks we leave behind."

~ DAKOTA PROVERB ~