Native American Proverbs

Below you will find our collection of inspirational, wise, and humorous old Native American Proverbs, Native American quotes, and Native American sayings, collected over the years from a variety of sources. Enjoy reading these insights and feel free to share this page on your social media to inspire others.

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See also: Native American Quotes And InspirationsNative American Legends, and Native American Prayers

Native Americans, also known as American Indians, Indigenous Americans and other terms, are the indigenous peoples of the United States, except Hawaii and territories of the United States. More than 570 federally recognized tribes live within the US, about half of which are associated with Indian reservations. The term “American Indian” excludes Native Hawaiians and some Alaskan Natives, while “Native Americans” (as defined by the US Census) are American Indians, plus Alaska Natives of all ethnicities.

With a long history, rich culture, and more than 300 spoken languages, the wisdom of Native American tribes has been passed down through the centuries. Native people look to the heart, rather than to the mind, for wisdom. They realize that wisdom comes from experience. They know that their dreams are also an important source of wisdom.

Native American Proverbs

A guilty conscience is a hidden enemy. – Native American Proverb

A pearl is worthless as long as it is in its shell. – Native American Proverb

As you go the way of life you will see a great chasm. Jump. It is not as wide as you think. – Native American Proverb

Be first at the feast, and last at the fight. – Native American Proverb

Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture the heart. = Native American Proverb

Do not change horses in the middle of the river. – Native American Proverb

Do not pray when it is raining if you do not pray when the sun is shining. – Native American Proverb

Don’t judge a man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins. – Native American Proverb

Don’t judge any man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins. – Native American Proverb

Even a small mouse has anger. – Native American Proverb

Great Spirit, grant that I may not criticize my neighbor until I have walked a mile in his moccasins. – Native American Proverb

Haste is the mother of inaccuracy. – Native American Proverb

If a man is to do something more than human, he must have more than human powers. – Native American Proverb

If it does not kill you, it will bring you happiness. – Native American Proverb

It is not enough for a man to know how to ride, he must also know how to fall. – Native American Proverb

It only looks that way. – Native American Proverb

Life is — not separate from death. – Native American Proverb

Live and learn, die and forget it all. – Native American Proverb

Lovely women, lovely quarrels. – Native American Proverb

Man belongs to earth, earth does not belong to man. – Native American Proverb

May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day. – Native American Proverb

Never criticize a man until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins. – Native American Proverb

No river can return to its source, yet all rivers must have a beginning. – Native American Proverb

Nobody gets out of the bed to sleep on the floor. – Native American Proverb

One foe is too many and a hundred friends are too few. – Native American Proverb

One shower doesn’t make a flood. – Native American Proverb

Regard Heaven as your father, Earth as your Mother and all things as your Brothers and Sisters. – Native American Proverb

Tell me and I’ll forget.
Show me, and I may not remember.
Involve me, and I’ll understand. – Native American Proverb

The devil goes away and heaven comes to stay. – Native American Proverb

The lazy ox drinks dirty water. – Native American Proverb

The river is my brother for it carries my canoe. – Native American Proverb

The words of God are not like the oak leaf which dies and falls to the earth, but like the pine tree which stays green forever. – Native American Proverb

There is nothing so eloquent as the rattlesnake’s tail. – Native American Proverb

Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children. – Native American Proverb

We always return to our first loves. – Native American Proverb

We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children. – Native American Proverb

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. – Native American Proverb

When the last tree has been cut down, the last river has been polluted and the last fish has been caught — only then do you realize that money can’t buy everything. – Native American Proverb

When the earth is hot, the worm stays in the ground. – Native American Proverb

When the White man wins, it is a battle, when the Indian wins, it is a massacre. – Native American Proverb

Worms don’t like the robin’s song. – Native American Proverb

Native American Proverbs

Anishinabe Proverbs

  • It is less of a problem to be poor, than to be dishonest. – Anishinabe Proverb
  • Most of us do not look as handsome to others as we do to ourselves. – Anishinabe Proverb
  • No one else can represent your conscience. – Anishinabe Proverb
  • Not every sweet root gives birth to sweet grass. – Anishinabe Proverb
  • What the people believe is true. – Anishinabe Proverb

Apache Proverbs

  • In this world the unseen has power. – Apache Proverb
  • It is better to have less thunder in the mouth and more lightning in the hand. – Apache Proverb
  • It makes no difference as to the name of the God, since love is the real God of all the world. – Apache Proverb
  • Listening to a liar is like drinking warm water. – Apache Proverb
  • The good looking boy may be just good in the face. – Apache Proverb
  • Even your silence holds a sort of prayer. – Apache Proverb
  • While living I want to live well. – Geronimo
  • I was born on the prairies where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures. – Geronimo
  • I was no chief and never had been, but because I had been more deeply wronged than others, this honor was conferred upon me, and I resolved to prove worthy of the trust. – Geronimo
  • I was warmed by the sun, rocked by the winds and sheltered by the trees as other Indian babes. I was living peaceably when people began to speak bad of me. Now I can eat well, sleep well and be glad. I can go everywhere with a good feeling. – Geronimo
  • Late one afternoon when returning from town we were met by a few women and children who told us that Mexican troops from some other town had attacked our camp, killed all the warriors of the guard, captured all our ponies, secured our arms, destroyed our supplies, and killed many of our women and children… when all were counted, I found that my aged mother, my young wife, and my three small children were among the slain. – Apache song – Ya Na Hana

Arapaho Proverbs

  • All plants are our brothers and sisters. They talk to us and if we listen, we can hear them. – Arapaho Proverb
  • Before eating, always take time to thank the food. – Arapaho Proverb
  • Each bird loves to hear himself sing. – Arapaho Proverb
  • If we wonder often, the gift of knowledge will come. – Arapaho Proverb
  • May our thoughts reach the sky where there is holiness. – Arapaho Proverb
  • Take only what you need and leave the land as you found it. – Arapaho Proverb
  • There are many ways to God. – Arapaho Proverb
  • When we show our respect for other living things, they respond with respect for us. – Arapaho Proverb

Arikara Proverbs

  • Skin color makes no difference… My skin is red, but my grandfather was a white man. But why should that matter? It is not the color of the skin that makes me good or bad. – Chief White Shield (1798-1878) Arikara leader

Assiniboine Proverbs

  • Deeds speak louder than words. – Assiniboine Proverb
  • Most of us do not look as handsome to others as we do to ourselves. – Assiniboine Proverb

Blackfoot Proverbs

  • Don’t let the grass grow on the path of friendship. – Blackfoot Proverb
  • Life is not independent from death, it only appears that way. – Blackfoot Proverb
  • Life is not separate from death. It only looks that way. – Blackfoot Proverb
  • There are plenty of different paths to a deep understanding of the universe. – Blackfoot Proverb
  • Those that lie down with dogs, get up with fleas. – Blackfoot Proverb
  • 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. – Crowfoot (1836-1890) warrior and peace-promoting head chief

Cherokee Proverbs

  • Always remember that a smile is something sacred, to be shared. – Cherokee Proverb
  • Don’t allow yesterday to spend up too much of today.
  • Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today. – Cherokee Proverb
  • I see the universe; I see myself. – High Eagle
  • Let us walk softly on the Earth with all living beings great and small – Cherokee Proverb
  • Listen — or your tongue will keep you deaf. – Cherokee Proverb
  • Listen to the whispers and you won’t have to hear the screams. – Cherokee Proverb
  • Listen with your heart. Learn from your experiences, and always be open to new ones. – Cherokee Proverb
  • Nuh wah doe he yaw duh (Peace). – Cherokee Proverb
  • The weakness of the enemy makes our strength. – Cherokee Proverb
  • There is a right time and place for everything. – Cherokee Proverb
  • We have a responsibility to give something back. – Cherokee Proverb
  • When the white man discovered this country Indians were running it. No taxes no debt, women did all the work. White man thought he could improve on a system like this. – Cherokee Proverb
  • When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice. – Cherokee Proverb
  • All my relations in creation. – Cherokee Proverb
  • May the Great Spirit’s blessings always be with you. – Cherokee Proverb
  • May the Warm Winds of Heaven
    Blow softly upon your house.
    May the Great Spirit
    Bless all who enter there.
    May your Moccasins
    Make happy tracks
    in many snows,
    and may the Rainbow
    Always touch your shoulder. – Cherokee Prayer Blessing

Cheyenne Proverbs

  • A danger foreseen is half-avoided. – Cheyenne Proverb
  • A good soldier is a poor scout. – Cheyenne Proverb
  • Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark. – Cheyenne Proverb
  • Do not judge your neighbor until you walk two moons in his moccasins. – Cheyenne Proverb
  • Don’t judge a person until you have walked two moons in his moccasins. – Cheyenne Proverb
  • Don’t judge with the eyes—use the heart instead. – Cheyenne Proverb
  • If a man is as wise as a serpent, he can afford to be as harmless as a dove. – Cheyenne Proverb
  • Judge not by the eye but by the heart. – Cheyenne Proverb
  • Our first teacher is in our own heart. – Cheyenne Proverb
  • Our first teacher is our own heart. – Cheyenne Proverb
  • Our pleasures are shallow, our sorrows are deep. – Cheyenne Proverb
  • There is no warning for upcoming danger. – Cheyenne Proverb
  • Watch out for the man who says nothing and the dog who does not bark. – Cheyenne Proverb
  • When you lose the rhythm of the drumbeat of God, you are lost from the peace and rhythm of life. – Cheyenne Proverb

Chickasaw Proverbs

  • Nanna Ayya (Peace). – Chickasaw Proverb

Chippewa Proverbs

  • It is good to tell one’s heart. – Chippewa Proverb
  • It may be that one little root of the sacred tree still lives. Nourish it, then, that it may leaf and bloom; and fill with singing birds. – Chippewa Proverb

Comanche Proverbs

  • All who have died are equal. – Comanche Proverb
  • Tsumukikiatu (Peace). – Comanche Proverb

Conestoga Proverbs

  • Treachery darkens the chain of friendship, but truth makes it brighter than ever. – Conestoga Proverb

Cree Proverbs

  • Knowledge that is not used is abused. – Cree Proverb
  • Never let things slide: keep steady hold, each upon yourself — do not throw away your life simply to spite another. – Cree Proverb
  • Never sit while your seniors stand. – Cree Proverb
  • Listen or your tongue will keep you deaf. – Cree Proverb
  • Only two relationships are possible – to be a friend or to be an enemy. – Cree Proverb
  • Only when the last tree has withered, and the last fish caught, and the last river been poisoned, will we realize we cannot eat money. – Cree Proverb

Creole Proverbs

  • One rain does not make a crop. – Creole Proverb
  • Tell me who you love, and I’ll tell you who you are. – Creole Proverb

Crow Proverbs

  • It is good to be reminded that each of us has a different dream. – Crow Proverb
  • Man’s law changes with his understanding of man. Only the laws of the spirit remain always the same. – Crow Proverb
  • Old age is not as honorable as death, but most people want it. – Crow Proverb
  • One has to face fear or forever run from it. – Crow Proverb
  • People’s eyes say words that the tongue cannot pronounce. – Crow Proverb
  • Stand in the light when you want to assert yourself. – Crow Proverb
  • Stand in the light when you want to speak out. – Crow Proverb
  • The eyes of men speak words the tongue cannot pronounce. – Crow Proverb
  • The laws of man change, but the laws of the spirit stay the same. – Crow Proverb
  • The more you give, the more good things come to you. – Crow Proverb
  • The only things that need the protection of men are the things of men, not the things of the spirit. – Crow Proverb
  • You already have everything needed to become great. – Crow Proverb
  • You already possess everything necessary to become great. – Crow Proverb
  • I was the friend of General Custer.  I was one of his scouts and will say a few words. The Great Father in Washington sent you here about this land. The soil you see is not ordinary soil—it is the dust of the blood, the flesh and the bones of our ancestors. We fought and bled and died to keep other Indians from taking it, and we fought and bled and died helping the Whites. You will have to dig down through the surface before you can find nature’s earth, as the upper portion is Crow. The land as it is, is my blood and my dead; it is consecrated; and I do not want to give up any portion of it. – Curley, Crow, Custer’s Chief Scout

Dakota Proverbs

  • The elders say, ‘The longest road you’re going to have to walk is from here to here. From your head to your heart.’ But they also say you can’t speak to the people as a leader unless you’ve made the return journey. From the heart back to the head. – Dakota Proverb
  • We will be known forever by the tracks we leave. – Dakota Proverb
  • Who serves his fellows is of all the greatest. – Dakota Proverb

Delaware Proverbs

  • Good and evil cannot dwell together in the same heart, so a good man ought not go into evil company. – Delaware Proverb

Duwamish Proverbs

  • Day and night cannot dwell together. – Duwamish Proverb
  • There is no death, only a change of worlds. – Duwamish Proverb

Fox Proverbs

  • There are many good moccasin tracks along the trail of a straight arrow. – Fox Proverb
  • When you have learned about love, you have learned about God. – Fox Proverb

Grebo Proverbs

  • Take the drowning child from the water before scolding it. – Grebo Proverb

Hopi Proverbs

  • A community that lacks faith in itself cannot survive. – Hopi Proverb
  • A people without faith in themselves cannot survive. – Hopi Proverb
  • All dreams spin out from the same web. – Hopi Proverb
  • All that we do must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration. – Hopi Proverb
  • All things have inner meaning and form and power. – Hopi Proverb
  • An angry word is like striking with a knife. – Hopi Proverb
  • Be good to each other. – Hopi Proverb
  • Be humble. – Hopi Proverb
  • Create your community. – Hopi Proverb
  • Do not allow anger to poison you. – Hopi Proverb
  • Do not look outside yourself for the leader. – Hopi Proverb
  • Don’t be afraid to cry. It will free your mind of sorrowful thoughts. – Hopi Proverb
  • Don’t be afraid to weep—it will free your mind from sad thoughts. – Hopi Proverb
  • Eating little and speaking little can hurt no man. – Hopi Proverb
  • Eternal life without suffering was yours all along. Never were you ever separated from the Source. – Hopi Proverb
  • Everything has form, power, and inner meaning. – Hopi Proverb
  • If two different bowls both get the job done, then what difference does it make if one bowl is dark and the other is pale? – Hopi Proverb
  • In age, talk; in childhood, tears. – Hopi Proverb
  • In death, I am born. – Hopi Proverb
  • Inside your heart is a tiny place where all knowledge and wisdom resides. – Hopi Proverb
  • Know the river has its destination. – Hopi Proverb
  • Know your garden. – Hopi Proverb
  • Leave your mind and your constant thoughts and return to your heart. – Hopi Proverb
  • Let go of the shore. – Hopi Proverb
  • Let no one say negative things about those who are not present. – Hopi Proverb
  • Let your eyes be offended by the sight of lying and deceitful men. – Hopi Proverb
  • Like a seed, your future is only beginning to emerge out of the darkness. – Hopi Proverb
  • Like the spider we must return again to rebuild webs by bringing together threads of our lives — uniting them to divine center within. – Hopi Proverb
  • Never get involved in someone’s decisions about his belongings. – Hopi Proverb
  • No answer is also an answer. – Hopi Proverb
  • Now, look into the Light and breathe deeply the joy of life. – Hopi Proverb
  • One finger cannot lift a pebble. – Hopi Proverb
  • Remember who you really are, trust yourself, and open your eyes to the beauty of a new Earth unfolding before you as we breathe. – Hopi Proverb
  • Rituals must be performed with good and pure hearts. – Hopi Proverb
  • Sipala (Peace). – Hopi Proverb
  • Take your children where you go — and don’t be ashamed. – Hopi Proverb
  • Teaching should come from within instead of without. – Hopi Proverb
  • The one who tells the stories rules the world. – Hopi Proverb
  • The rain falls on the just and the unjust. – Hopi Proverb
  • The rainbow is a sign from Him who is in all things. – Hopi Proverb
  • The time for the lone wolf is over. – Hopi Proverb
  • There is never a valid reason for arguing. – Hopi Proverb
  • Truth does not happen, it just is. – Hopi Proverb
  • We are all one, brothers. – Hopi Proverb
  • We are like a string of beads, all united. – Hopi Proverb
  • We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. – Hopi Proverb
  • Whatever you need on all levels of your existence is there for you. – Hopi Proverb
  • When the grandmothers speak, the world will begin to heal. – Hopi Proverb
  • Wisdom comes only when you stop looking for it and start living the life the Creator intended for you. – Hopi Proverb
  • Work hard, keep the ceremonies, live peaceably, and unite your hearts. – Hopi Proverb
  • You are never justified in arguing. – Hopi Proverb
  • You must live your life from beginning to end. No one else can do it for you. – Hopi Proverb
  • You must live your life from start to finish; no one can do it for you. – Hopi Proverb
  • You should water your children like you water a tree. – Hopi Proverb

Huron Proverbs

  • Let your nature be known and proclaimed. – Huron Proverb
  • Let your nature be known and expressed. – Huron Proverb
  • Listen to the voice of nature, for it holds treasures for you. – Huron Proverb
  • Listen to nature’s voice—it contains treasures for you. – Huron Proverb
  • A council fire shall be kindled for all the nations. It shall be lit for the Cherokee and the Wyandot. We will also kindle it for the seven nations living toward the sunrise, and for the nations that live toward the sunset. All shall receive the Great Law and labor together for the welfare of man. – Deganawidah (1500s-1600s) Leader who helped found the Iroquois confederacy

Iowa Proverbs

  • A brave man dies but once, a coward many times. – Iowa Proverb

Iroquois Proverbs

  • In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next 7 generations. – Iroquois Proverb
  • Showing kindness to a stranger is a gift that is always returned.. – Iroquois Proverb
  • The greatest strength is gentleness.. – Iroquois Proverb

Kiowa Proverbs

  • Walk lightly in the spring; Mother Earth is pregnant. – Kiowa Proverb
  • Wishing cannot bring autumn glory nor cause winter to cease. – Kiowa Proverb
  • There is no fear when there is faith. – Kiowa Proverb

Lakota (Teton, Sioux) Proverbs

  • A man or woman with many children has many homes. – Lakota (Teton, Sioux) Proverb
  • A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground. Then it is finished, no matter how brave its warriors or how strong their weapons. – Lakota (Teton, Sioux) Proverb
  • Be satisfied with the needs instead of the wants. – Lakota Proverb
  • Creation is continuous. – Lakota Proverb
  • Creation is ongoing. – Lakota (Teton, Sioux) Proverb
  • Do not speak of evil for it creates curiosity in the hearts of the young. – Lakota (Teton, Sioux) Proverb
  • Everything the Power does it does in a circle. – Lakota (Teton, Sioux) Proverb
  • Force, no matter how concealed, begets resistance. – Lakota (Teton, Sioux) Proverb
  • I am standing at the Earth’s center. – Lakota Proverb
  • If you continue to contaminate your own home, you will eventually suffocate in your own waste. – Lakota (Teton, Sioux) Proverb
  • Inner peace and love are the greatest of God’s gifts. – Lakota (Teton, Sioux) Proverb
  • It is observed that in any great endeavor, it is not enough for a person to depend solely on himself. – Lakota Proverb
  • Knowledge is rooted in all things — the world is a library. – Lakota (Teton, Sioux) Proverb
  • Many have fallen with the bottle in their hand. – Lakota (Teton, Sioux) Proverb
  • May the Great Spirit walk with you. – Lakota Proverb
  • No matter how hidden a force is, it will attract some kind of resistance. – Lakota (Teton, Sioux) Proverb
  • See how the boy is with his sister and the other ones of his home lodge and you can know how the man will be with your daughter. – Lakota Proverb
  • Tell me, and I will listen. Show me, and I will understand. Involve me, and I will learn. – Lakota (Teton, Sioux) Proverb
  • The ones that matter the most are the children. – Lakota Proverb
  • There can never be peace between nations until it is first known that true peace is within the souls of men. – Lakota Proverb
  • To go on a vision quest is to go into the presence of the great mystery. – Lakota (Teton, Sioux) Proverb
  • To touch the earth is to have harmony with nature. – Lakota (Teton, Sioux) Proverb
  • Touching the earth equates to having harmony with nature. – Lakota (Teton, Sioux) Proverb
  • True peace between nations will only happen when there is true peace within people’s souls. – Lakota (Teton, Sioux)
  • We are all related. – Lakota Proverb
  • When a man moves away from nature his heart becomes hard. – Lakota (Teton, Sioux) Proverb
  • When a man moves from nature, his heart becomes hard. – Lakota (Teton, Sioux) Proverb
  • When we understand deeply in our hearts, we will fear and love and know the Great Spirit. – Lakota (Teton, Sioux) Proverb
  • Grown men can learn from very little children—for the hearts of little children are pure. Therefore, the Great Spirit may show them many things that older people miss. – Black Elk
  • A man’s life is a circle from childhood to childhood, and thus it is in everything where the power moves. – Black Elk
  • The center of the universe is everywhere. – Black Elk
  • The power of the world always works in circles. – Black Elk
  • For what is one man that he should make much of his own winters, even when they bend him like a heavy snow? So many other men have lived, and shall live that story, to be grass upon the hills. – Black Elk
  • … A child is the greatest gift from Wakan Tanka. – Robert High-Eagle

Lumbee Proverbs

  • Pray to understand what man has forgotten. – Lumbee Proverb
  • Seek wisdom, not knowledge.
    Knowledge is of the past,
    Wisdom is of the future. – Lumbee Proverb

Maricopa Proverbs

  • Everyone who is successful must have dreamed of something. – Maricopa Proverb
  • If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies in yourself. – Maricopa Proverb

Minquass Proverbs

  • If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies in yourself. – Minquass Proverb
  • The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears. – Minquass Proverb
  • Guard your tongue in youth, and in age you may mature a thought that will be of service to your people. – Minquass Proverb

Mohawk Proverbs

  • Remember that your children are not your own, but are lent to you by the Creator. – Mohawk Proverb
  • Life is both giving and receiving. – Mohawk Proverb
  • Listen to her — our Earth, our Mother; listen to what she is saying. – Mohawk Proverb
  • When an elder speaks, be silent and listen. – Mohawk Proverb
  • A good chief gives, he does not take. – Mohawk Proverb
  • From a grain of sand to a great mountain, all is sacred. – Peter Blue Cloud (1935-) Mohawk writer
  • What is past is past—it is the present and the future that concern us. – Hiawatha (1500s) Onondaga and Mohawk leader

Mohican Proverbs

  • Anachemowegan (Peace). – Mohican Proverb

Navajo Proverbs

  • A man can’t get rich if he takes proper care of his family. – Navajo Proverb
  • A rocky vineyard does not need a prayer, but a pick ax. – Navajo Proverb
  • A spear is a big responsibility. – Navajo Proverb
  • All around me my land is beauty. – Navajo Proverb
  • Always assume your guest is tired, cold, and hungry, and act accordingly. – Navajo Proverb
  • Be still and the earth will speak to you. – Navajo Proverb
  • Before me peaceful, behind me peaceful, under me peaceful, over me peaceful, all around me peaceful. – Navajo Proverb
  • Coyote is always out there waiting, and Coyote is always hungry. – Navajo Proverb
  • I am one with the Earth. – Navajo Proverb
  • I grew up knowing it’s wrong to have more than you need. It means you’re not taking care of your people. – Navajo Proverb
  • I have been to the end of the earth, I have been to the end of the waters, I have been to the end of the sky, I have been to the end of the mountains, I have found none that are not my friends. – Navajo Proverb
  • If you want to see what your body will look like tomorrow, look at your thoughts today. – Navajo Proverb
  • In beauty it is begun. In beauty it is ended. – Navajo Proverb
  • It’s impossible to awaken a man who is pretending to be asleep. – Navajo Proverb
  • There is a way out of every dark mist; over a rainbow trail. – Navajo Proverb
  • There is beauty around me and there is beauty within me. – Navajo Proverb
  • There is nothing as eloquent as a rattlesnakes tail. – Navajo Proverb
  • Those who tell the stories, rule the people. – Navajo Proverb
  • Thoughts are like arrows; once released, they strike their mark. Guard them well or one day you may be your own victim. – Navajo Proverb
  • We do not inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. – Navajo Proverb
  • Walk on a trail of song, and all about you will be beauty. – Navajo Proverb
  • You can’t win them all. – Navajo Proverb
  • You can’t wake a person who is pretending to be asleep. – Navajo Proverb
  • You cannot see the future with tears in your eyes. – Navajo Proverb

Nez Percé Proverbs

  • Every animal knows more than you do. – Nez Percé Proverb
  • Talk to your children while they are eating; what you say will stay even after you are gone. – Nez Percé Proverb
  • ‘Éyewi (Peace). – Nez Percé Proverb
  • White men have too many chiefs. – Nez Percé Proverb
  • It takes a thousand voices to tell a single story. – Nez Percé Proverb
  • No man can think for me. – Chief Joseph
  • The earth and myself are of one mind. – Chief Joseph
  • I believe much trouble and blood would be saved if we opened our hearts more. – Chief Joseph
  • Too many misinterpretations have been made … too many misunderstandings. – Chief Joseph
  • I am tired of talk that comes to nothing. – Chief Joseph
  • The Earth is the mothers of everyone, and everyone should have equal rights upon it. – Chief Joseph
  • You might as well expect the rivers to run backward than to believe that any man who was born free should be contented to be penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases. – Chief Joseph
  • It does not require many words to speak the truth. – Chief Joseph (1840-1904) Leader known for his integrity and honor

Oglala Proverbs

  • When we understand deeply in our hearts, we will fear and love and know the Great Spirit. – Oglala Proverb
  • There can never be peace between nations until it is first known that true peace is within the souls of men. – Oglala Sioux

Ojibway Proverbs

  • Sometimes I go about pitying myself and all the while I am being carried across the sky by beautiful clouds. – Ojibway Proverb
  • No tree has branches so foolish as to fight among themselves. – Ojibway Proverb

Oklahoma Proverbs

  • When a fox walks lame, the old rabbit jumps. – Oklahoma Proverb
  • A starving man will eat with the wolf. – Oklahoma Proverb
  • The coward shoots with shut eyes. – Oklahoma Proverb

Omaha Proverbs

  • Ask questions from you heart and you will be answered from the heart. – Omaha Proverb
  • Ask questions from your heart and you will be answered from the heart. – Omaha Proverb
  • Dreams are wiser than men. – Omaha Proverb
  • He who is present at a wrongdoing and does not lift a hand to prevent it is as guilty as the wrongdoers. – Omaha Proverb
  • In anger a man becomes dangerous to himself and to others. – Omaha Proverb
  • It is better to return a borrowed pot with a little something you last cooked in it. – Omaha Proverb
  • It is easy to be brave from a distance. – Omaha Proverb
  • It is easy to show braveness from a safe distance. – Omaha Proverb
  • It takes a whole village to raise a child. – Omaha Proverb
  • Misfortune happens even to the wisest and best men. – Omaha Proverb
  • Respect the gift and the giver. – Omaha Proverb
  • The bird that has eaten cannot fly with the bird that is hungry. – Omaha Proverb
  • The bird who has eaten cannot fly with the bird that is hungry. – Omaha Proverb
  • The clear sky and the green fruitful Earth are good; but peace among men is better. – Omaha Proverb
  • The lazy man is apt to be envious. – Omaha Proverb
  • The mark of shame does not wash away. – Omaha Proverb

Oneida Proverbs

  • Let us continue to honor that which remains only in dream memory. – Oneida Proverb
  • To be noble is to give to those who have less. It is an issue of service and leadership. – Oneida Proverb
  • Service is a spiritual act. – Oneida Proverb
  • Service is the rent we pay for living, the anchor to our humanity. – Oneida Proverb
  • You are a servant of the people and the people must come first. – Oneida Proverb

Onondaga Proverbs

  • There are no secrets or mysteries—there is only common sense. – Onondaga Proverb
  • We give back thanks to our mother, the earth that sustains us. – Onondaga Proverb
  • We give thanks back to the Sun that has looked upon the Earth with beneficial eyes. – Onondaga Proverb

Osage Proverbs

  • Strive to be a person who is never absent from an important act. – Osage Proverb
  • We are friends; we must assist each other to bear our burdens. – Osage Proverb

Pawnee Proverbs

  • All religions are but stepping stones back to God. – Pawnee Proverb
  • Misfortune will happen to the wisest and best of men. – Pawnee Proverb
  • What is past and cannot be prevented should not be grieved for. – Pawnee Proverb
  • Misfortunes do not flourish on one path, they grow everywhere. – Pawnee Proverb
  • What happened in the past and cannot be stopped should not be lamented over. – Pawnee Proverb
  • Let us see—is this real, this life that I am living? – Pawnee Proverb

Pima Proverbs

  • The smarter a man is the more he needs God to protect him from thinking he knows everything. – Pima Proverb
  • Do not wrong or hate your neighbor for it is not he that you wrong but yourself. – Pima Proverb
  • Do right and fear no man. – Pima Proverb
  • Do unto others as you would they should do unto you. – Pima Proverb
  • Each person is his own judge. – Pima Proverb

Paiute Proverbs

  • A hungry stomach makes a short prayer. – Paiute Proverb

Plains Proverbs

  • Make my enemy brave and strong, so that if defeated, I will not be ashamed. – Plains Proverb
  • See how the boy is with his sister and you can know how the man will be with his daughter. – Plains Proverb
  • Give me knowledge, so I may have kindness for all. – Plains Proverb

Powhatan Proverbs

  • Cohqwaivwh (Peace). – Powhatan Proverb

Pueblo Proverbs

  • A good man does not take what belongs to someone else. – Pueblo Proverb
  • Cherish youth, but trust old age. – Pueblo Proverb
  • I add my breath to your breath that we shall be as one people. – Pueblo Proverb
  • We are grateful to the Mother Earth. – Pueblo Proverb
  • Never sleep while your meat is cooking on the fire. – Pueblo Proverb
  • People seeking a myth will usually find one. – Pueblo Proverb

    Native American Proverbs

  • Hold On
    Hold on to what is good,
    Even if it’s a handful of earth.
    Hold on to what you believe,
    Even if it’s a tree that stands by itself.
    Hold on to what you must do,
    Even if it’s a long way from here.
    Hold on to your life,
    Even if it’s easier to let go.
    Hold on to my hand,
    Even if someday
    I’ll be gone away from you. – A Pueblo Indian Prayer

Santee (Dakota, Sioux) Proverbs

  • Children are taught to give what they prize most, that they may taste the happiness of giving. – Santee (Dakota, Sioux) Proverb
  • A child believes that only the actions of someone who is unfriendly can cause pain. – Santee (Dakota, Sioux) Proverb
  • Children must early learn the beauty of generosity. – Santee (Dakota, Sioux) Proverb
  • The love of possessions is a weakness to be overcome. – Santee (Dakota, Sioux) Proverb
  • The true Indian sets no price upon either his property or his labor. – Santee (Dakota, Sioux) Proverb

Sauk Proverbs

  • Sharing and giving are the ways of God. – Sauk Proverb
  • Talk was given to the people for good. – Sauk Proverb
  • You can’t purchase friendship — you have to do your part to make it. – Sauk Proverb
  • Always look at your moccasin tracks first before you speak of another’s faults. – Sauk Proverb
  • There is a need for obedience all around us. – Sauk Proverb
  • When you have a talent of any kind, use it, take care of it, guard it. – Sauk Proverb

Seminole Proverbs

  • The strength of our future lies in the protecting of our past. – Seminole Proverb

Seneca Proverbs

  • He who would do great things should not attempt them all alone. – Seneca Proverb
  • Every fire is the same size when it starts. – Seneca Proverb
  • As long as you live, keep learning how to live. – Seneca Proverb
  • Even as you desire good treatment, so render it. – Seneca Proverb
  • Before leaving your host, give him a little present—it will serve as a little courtesy, and will not offend. – Seneca Proverb
  • He who has great power should use it lightly. – Seneca Proverb
  • Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart. – Seneca Proverb
  • The Great Spirit has made us what we are. – Seneca Proverb
  • The more you ask how far you need to go, the longer your journey seems. – Seneca Proverb
  • Time discovered truth. – Seneca Proverb
  • Love one another and do not strive for another’s undoing. – Seneca Proverb
  • When the wisdom keepers speak, all should listen. – Seneca Proverb
  • The more often you ask how much farther you have to go, the longer your quest will feel. – Seneca Proverb
  • Every fire is the same size when it begins. – Seneca Proverb

Shawnee Proverbs

  • We are all one child spinning through Mother Sky. – Shawnee Proverb
  • Each person is his own judge. – Shawnee Proverb
  • Show respect for all men, but grovel to none. – Shawnee Proverb
  • Sing your death song and die like a hero going home. – Shawnee Proverb
  • Tenskwatawa has never spoken a lie or an impurity, and never will. – Tenskwatawa a.k.a. He-Who-Opens-The-Door (1768-1834) Leader and religious man also known as “The Prophet.” He was Tecumseh’s brother.
  • I have been shown how to open the door that has shut us out from joy. – Tenskwatawa a.k.a. He-Who-Opens-The-Door
  • I have been a slave to liquor since first I tasted it—but never again will I drink any. – Tenskwatawa a.k.a. He-Who-Opens-The-Door
  • Never trouble anyone regarding his religion—respect him in his beliefs, and demand that he respect yours. – Tecumseh (1768-1813) Shawnee Indian chief who led an intertribal alliance that resisted white rule.

Shenandoah Proverbs

  • We are made from Mother Earth and we go back to Mother Earth. – Shenandoah Proverb
  • It is no longer good enough to cry peace, we must act peace, live peace and live in peace. – Shenandoah Proverb

Shoshone Proverbs

  • Some are smart but they are not wise. – Shoshone Proverb
  • You must always be careful with something that is greater than you are. – Shoshone Proverb

Sioux Proverbs

  • A people without a history is like the wind over buffalo grass. – Sioux Proverb
  • All we wanted was peace and to be let alone. – Crazy Horse (1842-1877) Determined and fierce warrior and leader
  • Always do right. It will give you satisfaction in life. – Wovoka (a.k.a. the Cutter) (1858-1932) Religious figure of Sioux and other tribes
  • Be satisfied with the needs instead of the wants. – Sioux Proverb
  • Be self-loving—go outside yourself and take action. Be peaceful, and be focused on the solution. – Sioux Proverb
  • Before you choose a counselor, watch him with his neighbor’s children. – Sioux Proverb
  • Do not only point the way but lead the way. – Sioux Proverb
  • Friendship is held to be the severest test of character. – Ohiyesa a.k.a. Charles Alexander Eastman
  • Friendship is held to be the severest test of character. – Sioux Proverb
  • Frogs don’t drink up all the water in the ponds they live in. – Sioux Proverb
  • Great men are usually destroyed by those who are jealous of them. – Sioux Proverb
  • I was eager to learn and to do things, and thus I learned quickly. – Chief Sitting Bull
  • If a man loses anything and goes back and carefully looks for it, he will find it. – Chief Sitting Bull
  • Inner peace and love are God’s greatest gifts. – Sioux Proverb
  • Is it not better for one hundred to pray for one than for one to pray alone for himself? – Sioux Proverb
  • It has been said that the position of woman is the test of civilization, and that of our women was secure. In them was vested our standard of morals and the purity of our blood. [For the Native American,] The wife did not take the name of her husband nor enter his clan, and the children belonged to the clan of the mother. All of the family property was held by her, descent was traced in the maternal line, and the honor of the house was in her hands… – Ohiyesa a.k.a. Charles Alexander Eastman
  • Love yourself; get outside yourself and take action. Focus on the solution; be at peace. – Sioux Proverb
  • Lying is a great shame. – Sioux Proverb
  • Poverty is a noose that strangles humility and breeds disrespect for God and man. – Sioux Proverb
  • Prestige is accorded those who give unreservedly. – Sioux Proverb
  • Silence is the cornerstone of character. – Ohiyesa a.k.a. Charles Alexander Eastman
  • Speak truth in humility to all people. Only then can you be a true man. – Sioux Proverb
  • The earth has received the sun’s hug, and we shall see the results of that love. – Chief Sitting Bull (1831-1890) Leader and medicine man
  • The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives. – Sioux Proverb
  • The Indians in their simplicity give away all they have — above all to the poor and the aged from whom they can hope for no return. – Sioux Proverb
  • The man who preserves his selfhood is ever calm and unshaken by the storms of existence. – Ohiyesa a.k.a. Charles Alexander Eastman
  • The true Indian regards it as an honor to be selected for a difficult or dangerous service. – Sioux Proverb
  • The true Indian’s generosity is limited only by strength and ability. – Sioux Proverb
  • There are many good moccasin tracks along the trail of a straight arrow. – Sioux Proverb
  • There can never be peace between nations until it is first known that true peace is within the souls of men. – Sioux Proverb
  • Thus she ruled undisputed within her own domain, and was to us a tower of moral and spiritual strength… [Before the arrival of the “white man,”] you could not find anywhere a happier home than that created by the Indian woman. There was nothing of the artificial about her person, and very little disingenuousness in her character. – Ohiyesa a.k.a. Charles Alexander Eastman (1858-1939) Physician and writer
  • To have a friend, and to be true under any and all trials, is the mark of a man. – Sioux Proverb
  • To touch the earth is to have harmony with nature. – Sioux Proverb
  • We see no need for a setting apart one day in seven as a holy day, because to us all days are God’s days. – Sioux Proverb
  • With all things and in all things, we are relatives. – Sioux Proverb

Suquamish Quotes

  • All things share the same breath – the beast, the tree, the man. The air shares its spirit with all the life it supports. – Chief Seattle (Seathl)
  • All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth. – Chief Seattle (Seathl)
  • We are part of the earth, and it is part of us. – Chief Seattle (Seathl)
  • Every part of the soil is sacred to my people. – Chief Seattle (Seathl) (1790-1866)
  • Take only memories, Leave only footprints. – Chief Seattle (1780-1866)
  • 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 Seattle, 1854

Southwest Proverbs

  • The moon is not shamed by the barking of dogs. – Southwest Proverb

Teeton Sioux Proverbs

  • Be satisfied with the needs instead of the wants. – Teeton Sioux Proverb

Tuscarora Proverbs

  • They are not dead who live in the hearts they leave behind. – Tuscarora Proverb
  • Those who have one foot in the canoe, and one foot in the boat, are going to fall into the river. – Tuscarora Proverb
  • Man has responsibility, not power. – Tuscarora Proverb
  • Words are the voice of the heart. – Tuscarora Proverb

Umpqua Proverbs

  • The way of the troublemaker is thorny. – Umpqua Proverb

Ute Proverbs

  • God gives us each a song. – Ute Proverb
  • God gave us each a song. – Ute Proverb
  • Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Walk beside me that we may be as one. – Ute Proverb

    Native American Proverbs

  • Earth, Teach Me
    Earth teach me quiet
    as the grasses are still with new light.
    Earth teach me suffering
    as old stones suffer with memory.
    Earth teach me humility
    as blossoms are humble with beginning.
    Earth teach me caring
    as mothers nurture their young.
    Earth teach me courage
    as the tree that stands alone.
    Earth teach me limitation
    as the ant that crawls on the ground.
    Earth teach me freedom
    as the eagle that soars in the sky.
    Earth teach me acceptance
    as the leaves that die each fall.
    Earth teach me renewal
    as the seed that rises in the spring.
    Earth teach me to forget myself
    as melted snow forgets its life.
    Earth teach me to remember kindness
    as dry fields weep with rain. – An Ute Prayer

Uvavnuk Proverbs

  • The sky and the strong wind have moved the spirit inside me till I am carried away trembling with joy. – Uvavnuk Proverb

Winnebago Proverbs

  • A man must make his own arrows. – Winnebago Proverb

Yurok Proverbs

  • When you die, you will be spoken of as those in the sky, like the stars. – Yurok Proverb
  • Silence has so much meaning. – Yurok Proverb

Zuni Proverbs

  • After dark all cats are leopards. – Zuni Proverb
  • The strong man walks with virtue. – Zuni Proverb

Native American Proverbs

Lakota Instructions for Living

Friend do it this way – that is,
whatever you do in life,
do the very best you can
with both your heart and mind.

And if you do it that way,
the Power Of The Universe
will come to your assistance,
if your heart and mind are in Unity.

When one sits in the Hoop Of The People,
one must be responsible because
All of Creation is related.
And the hurt of one is the hurt of all.
And the honor of one is the honor of all.
And whatever we do affects everything in the universe.

If you do it that way – that is,
if you truly join your heart and mind
as One – whatever you ask for,
that’s the Way It’s Going To Be. – Passed down from White Buffalo Calf Woman

Native American Ten Commandments

  1. Treat the Earth and all that dwell therein with respect
  2. Remain close to the Great Spirit
  3. Show great respect for your fellow beings
  4. Work together for the benefit of all Mankind
  5. Give assistance and kindness wherever needed
  6. Do what you know to be right
  7. Look after the well-being of Mind and Body
  8. Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater Good
  9. Be truthful and honest at all times
  10. Take full responsibility for your actions

Compiled by Kathy Weiser-Alexander

Navajo Chants

I have been to the end of the Earth.
I have been to the end of the waters.
I have been to the end of the sky.
I have been to the end of the mountains.
I have found none that are not my friends.

The Earth is beautiful
Its feet, they are beautiful
Its legs, they are beautiful
Its body, it is beautiful
Its chest, it is beautiful
Its breath, it is beautiful
Its head-feather, it is beautiful
The Earth is beautiful.

In harmony may I walk.
With harmony ahead me, may I walk.
With harmony behind me, may I walk.
With harmony above me, may I walk.
With harmony underneath my feet, may I walk.
With harmony all around me, may I walk.
It is done in harmony.

I see the Earth.
I am looking at her and smile because she makes me joyful.
And the Earth is also looking back at me and smiling.
May I walk joyfully and lightly upon Her.

May there be joy.
May there be success.
May there be good health.
May there be well being.

The mountains—I become part of it.
The flowers, the evergreen tree—I become part of it.
The morning moisture, the clouds, the bodies of water—I become part of it
The wilderness, the water drops, the pollen—I become part of it.

Two Wolves

An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life…
‘A fight is going on inside me,’ he said to the boy.
‘It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.
One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed,
arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies,
false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego.
The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope,
serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy,
generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.
This same fight is going on inside you
and inside every other person, too.’
The grandson thought about it for a minute
and then asked his grandfather,
‘Which wolf will win?’
The old chief simply replied,
‘The one you feed. – A Cherokee Parable

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