Words of the Great Spirit
"The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears."
A tribal chief, circa 1876
"Oh, Great Spirit,
I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother,
but to fight my greatest enemy - myself.
Make me always ready to come to you
with clean hands and straight eyes.
So when life fades, as the fading sunset,
my Spirit may come to you without shame."
A Lakȟóta prayer
"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.
Si'ahl, Dkhw’Duw’Absh chief, 1854
"When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice."
"Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture your heart."
"Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way."
"Treat the earth well.
It was not given to you by your parents,
it was loaned to you by your children."
Ancient tribal proverbs
"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."
A Nēhilawē prophecy
"I do not think the measure of a civilization
is how tall its buildings of concrete are,
But rather how well its people have learned to relate
to their environment and fellow man."
Sun Bear of the Ojibwe Tribe
"We do not want schools....
they will teach us to have churches.
We do not want churches....
they will teach us to quarrel about God.
We do not want to learn that.
We may quarrel with men sometimes
about things on this earth,
but we never quarrel about God.
We do not want to learn that."
Heinmot Tooyalaket, Leader of the Nimíipuu
"Before our white brothers arrived to make us civilized men, we didn't have any kind of prison. Because of this, we had no delinquents. Without a prison, there can be no delinquents. We had no locks nor keys and therefore among us there were no thieves. When someone was so poor that he couldn't afford a horse, a tent or a blanket, he would, in that case, receive it all as a gift.
We were too uncivilized to give great importance to private property. We didn't know any kind of money and consequently, the value of a human being was not determined by his wealth.
We had no written laws laid down, no lawyers, no politicians, therefore we were not able to cheat and swindle one another.
We were really in bad shape before the white men arrived and I don't know how to explain how we were able to manage without these fundamental things that (so they tell us) are so necessary for a civilized society.
Lame Deer of the Lakȟóta (1903-1976)
"Natural freedom is the only object of the policy of [the tribes]; with this freedom do nature and climate rule alone amongst them ... [the tribes] maintain their freedom and find abundant nourishment ... [and are] people who live without laws, without police, without religion."
Eighteenth century Genevois philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau