Only when the last tree has died
and the last river been poisoned
and the last fish been caught
will we realise we cannot eat money
Cree Indian Proverb
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.
John (Fire) Lame Deer
Sioux Lakota - 1903-1976
1927 Grand Council of American Indians
"The white people who 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 integrated.
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 to live in peace. We don't want power,
we don't want to be congressmen, 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."
O' GREAT SPIRIT
Help me always
to speak the truth quietly,
to listen with an open mind
when others speak,
and to remember the peace
that may be found in silence.
"Beauty is before me,
And beauty is behind me.
Above and below me hovers the beautiful.
I am surrounded by it.
I am immersed in it.
In my youth I am aware of it,
And in old age I shall walk quietly
The beautiful trail."
"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 Plenty Coups, Crow
"The ground on which we stand is sacred ground. It is the blood of our ancestors."
Crazy Horse, Sept. 23, 1875
"One does not sell the land people walk on."
John Wooden Legs, Cheyenne
"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."
Black Hawk, Sauk
"How smooth must be the language of the whites, when they can make right look like wrong, and wrong like right."
Mourning Dove Salish (1888-1936)
"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".
Big Thunder (Bedagi) Wabanaki Algonquin
"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".
"We know our lands have now become more valuable. The white people think we do not know their value; but we know that the land is everlasting, and the few goods we receive for it are soon worn out and gone."
Shooter Teton Sioux
"All birds, even those of the same species, are not alike, and it is the same with animals and with human beings. The reason WakanTanka does not make two birds, or animals, or human beings exactly alike is because each is placed here by WakanTanka to be an independent individuality and to rely upon itself".
Sogoyewapha, "Red Jacket" - Senaca
"Brother, you say there is but one way to worship and serve the Great Spirit. If there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about it? Why not all agreed, as you can all read the Book"?
Chief Maquinna, Nootka
"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."
Wintu Woman, 19th Century
"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 pine nuts. 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 White people pay no attention. ...How can the spirit of the earth like the White man? ... everywhere the White man has touched it, it is sore."
"You ask me to plow the ground. Shall I take a knife and tear my mother's bosom? Then when I die she will not take me to her bosom to rest.
"You ask me to dig for stones! Shall I dig under her skin for bones? Then when I die I cannot enter her body to be born again.
"You ask me to cut grass and make hay and sell it and be rich like white men, but how dare I cut my mother's hair?
"I want my people to stay with me here. All the dead men will come to life again. Their spirits will come to their bodies again. We must wait here in the homes of our fathers and be ready to meet them in the bosom of our mother."
From Chief Joseph, Nez Perce'
"If the white man wants to live in peace with the Indian, he can live in peace.....Treat all men alike. Give them all the same law. Give them all an even chance to live and grow. All men were made by the same Great Spirit Chief. They are all brothers. The Earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it.......Let me be a free man, free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade....where I choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to think and talk and act for myself, and I will obey every law, or submit to the penalty."
Chief Aupumut, Mohican. 1725
"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."
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