WORDS FROM THE CIRCLE
"It is a wonderful feeling to be with our own people." Violet Allman, Nez Perce
"There's a lot of negative out there, but I won't let it get me down." Sherelle Lynne Walker, 17, Navajo
"Take only memories, leave nothing but footprints." ~~Chief Seattle
"We will be known by the tracks we leave behind... " ~Dakota Proverb
"Good words do not last long unless they amount to something." ~Chief Joseph,1879
"The Great Spirit does right. He knows what is best for his children. We are satisfied.
Brother, we do not wish to destroy your religion, or to take it from you. We only want to enjoy our own."
~Chief Red Jacket, 1805
"We are what we imagine. Our very existence consists in our imagination of ourselves... The greatest tragedy that can befall us is to go unimagined." ~N. Scott Momaday
"You've got to know your language to understand your culture." Beatrice Taylor, Ojibwe
"We had no churches, no religious organizations, no sabbath day, no holidays, and yet we worshiped. Sometimes the whole tribe would assemble to sing or pray; sometimes in a small number, perhaps only two or three. Sometimes we prayed in silence, sometimes each one prayed aloud." Geronimo, Apache war chief
"It's something I'm proud of. I used my heritage to
help my country."
Charles Chibitty Comanche code talker
**“We are all given a song line. That’s what you are meant to do with your life. When you do that, it makes you happy and it makes everything happy around you."
Paul Taylor, Australian aborigine
"When the language is no longer spoken, many of the cultural elements specific to a group are lost: it's greetings, its praises, its laws, its literature, its songs, its riddles, its proverbs, its cures ,its wisdom and its prayers. A culture cannot be expressed or handed on in any other way."
*"Love your life, perfect your life, Beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long, and its purpose in the service of your people."
**"I want to live where I really belong--on my own
land." Davi Kopenawa, Yanomami
"Unless you teach children, and they become fluent speakers, most languages cannot survive. A language cannot be adequately recorded on a CD-ROM or technology that a lot of people think is adequate. You really want the language to thrive in a dynamic way, and to grow, and this has to be done through the actions of children as they expand and bring dynamics to the language." Darrell Kipp, the Piegan Institute.
"It's so important because a lot of people talk about family values, you know, and things like that. And I think that for so many of us that loss of language is truly - equates to loss of identity, loss of instructions." Ruth Yellow Hawk, Indian education advocate
"I think it's a beautiful language and I wished I would've learned it when I was young. Growing up I would hear people talk and stuff, but I never, never really learned the language itself." Lakota youth
"In my lifetime, I have seen changes in the Indian world that are nearly unimaginable. At the turn of the 20th century, the Indian was literally headed for extinction. The death rate exceeded the birth rate, poverty and disease were pervasive, the prospects for survival--let alone a better life--were bleak. At the turn of the century, the Indian has not only survived , indeed he--and she--has become a viable, even necessary, factor in the life of the nation and of the world." N. Scott Momaday
"In high school we were required to take two years of
foreign language, meaning other than English. But our own language wasn't offered to us, so I took two years of Spanish
in high school."
"The language, the whole culture of the Lakota, comes from the song of our heartbeat. It's not something that can quickly be put into words. It's a feeling, it's a prayer, it's a thought, it's an emotion - all of these things are in the language." Larry Swalley, Lakota.
" We must act as a guardian of our rights."
"If you are here to pray, pray with us. But don't take it from us. It belongs to us."Bernard Red Cherries, Northern Cheyenne
"Why is it lawful to transfer federal lands to mining companies for fast food hamburger prices, but not a sacred site such as Martin's Cove or Valley of Chiefs to a church and to a tribe?" Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.)
"Do not take up the warpath without a just cause and honest purpose." Pushmataha, Choctaw Leader
"The power and strength of our people is going to come from inside of us." Evon Peter
To all Mankind-it takes each of these qualities, Unity, loyalty, determination, endurance and a fighting spirit to achieve higher merits in each community so that we may stand proud as true Americans."
Edwin Gordon, Seneca
**"We have all been victims of a great lie: the idea that one people is better than another and that 'different is bad.'" Madonna Beard, Lakota
"Children were encouraged to develop strict
discipline and a high regard for sharing. When a girl picked her first berries and dug her first roots, they were given
away to an elder so she would share her future success. When a child carried water for the home, an elder would give
compliments, pretending to taste meat in water carried by a boy or berries in that of a girl. The child was encouraged
not to be lazy and to grow straight like a sapling.
Dove [Christine Quintasket] (1888-1936) Salish
"The life of an Indian is like the wings of the air. That is why you notice the hawk knows how to get his prey. The Indian is like that. The hawk swoops down on its prey; so does the Indian. In his lament he is like an animal. For instance, the coyote is sly; so is the Indian. The eagle is the same. That is why the Indian is always feathered up; he is a relative to the wings of the air. ---Black Elk (1863-1950) Oglala Sioux Holy Man
**"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
**"Each of us is put here in this time and this place to personally decide the future of humankind. Did you think you were put here for something less?" Chief Arvol Looking Horse
**"I do not see a delegation for the Four Footed. I see
no seat for the Eagles. We forget and we consider ourselves superior. But we are after all a mere part of
Creation. And we must consider to understand where we are. And we stand somewhere between the mountain and the
Ant. Somewhere and only there as part and parcel of the Creation."
Chief Oren Lyons, Onondaga, From an address to the Non-Governmental Organizations of the United Nations, Geneva,
"He aha te nui mea o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata."
"What is the most important thing in the world? It is the people, the people, the people."
(A Maori Saying)
“The quality of life of our elders is a top priority for
us. Our elders have made many sacrifices in their lifetimes. They have provided our band with the wisdom to build a
strong foundation and the insight to seek out opportunities for our future. We respect our elders and the contributions
they have made. We believe it is our duty to provide them with comfortable surroundings and someone to help them with
their personal and medical needs as they enjoy [the] special years of their lives.”
Moose, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
**"We are still here and we are not going away. It is time that the newcomers to this land paid proper respect to the elder status of the first Americans." Otis Halfmoon, NiMiPu
"For me writing has become prayers that say, " Great Spirit, return to us our freedom, our land, and our lives. We are thankful for the present from which to learn how to be thankful for the past, and how to be hopeful for the future." Barney Bush, Shawnee
"Nature is the storehouse of potential life of future generations and is sacred." Audrey Shenandoah, Onondaga
**"When we walk upon Mother Earth, we always plant our feet carefully because we know the faces of our future generations are looking up at us from beneath the ground. We never forget them. "Oren Lyons, Onondaga Nation
"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." Canassatego
"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."
"Your emperor may be a great prince; I do not doubt it, seeing that he has sent his subjects so far across the waters; and I am willing to treat him as a brother. As for your pope of whom you speak, he must be mad to speak of giving away countries that do not belong to him. As for my faith, I will not change it. Your own God, as you tell me, was put to death by the very men He created. But my God still looks down on His children." Atahualpa, Inca Chief (On hearing Pope Alexander VI had declared Peru to be a possession of Spain.)
"Nuclear waste is a heavy burden to lay on our
children and their children and their children's children and their children's children's children and their children's
children's children's children..."
"American Indians seem an enigma to most other Americans. The images portrayed in the movies, whether of noble red man or bloodthirsty savage, recall the stereotypes of western history. Newspaper stories dealing with oil wells, uranium mines, land claims, and the occupation of public buildings and reservation hamlets almost seem to speak of another group altogether and it is difficult to connect the two perceptions of Indians in any single and comprehensible reality." Vine Deloria Jr. (Standing Rock Sioux)
"Literature on Indians provides no clues to understanding the present or remembering the past. Much contemporary literature is a thinly disguised romanticism that looks at Indians as the last and best spiritual hope for a society disheartened and disorganized." Vine Deloria Jr. (Standing Rock Sioux)
"A warrior who had more than he needed would make a feast. He went around and invited the old and needy. . . The man who could thank the food—some worthy old medicine man or warrior—said, ". . . . look to the old, they are worthy of old age; they have seen their days and proven themselves. With the help of the Great Spirit, they have attained a ripe old age. At this age the old can predict or give knowledge or wisdom, whatever it is; it is so." Black Elk, Oglala Sioux holy man
"Learn to associate with the White man, learn his ways, get an education. With an education you are his equal; without it, you are his victim." Chief Plenty Coups, Crow
"My father, you have made promises to me and to my children. If the promises had been made by a person of no standing, I should not be surprised to see his promises fail. But you, who are so great in riches and power; I am astonished that I do not see your promises fulfilled! "I would have been better pleased if you had never made such promises than that you should have made them and not performed them. " Shinguaconse/Little Pine
**"In an eagle there is all the wisdom of the world." Lame Deer, Minnicoujou
"For a long time I have been walking and seeing nothing. Now I find this song and it cheers me." Nitanat
"There are many things to be shared with the Four Colors of humanity in our common destiny as one with our Mother the Earth. It is this sharing that must be considered with great care by the Elders and the medicine people who carry the Sacred Trusts, so that no harm may come to people through ignorance and misuse of these powerful forces." Resolution of the Fifth Annual Meetings of the Traditional Elders Circle, 1980
"Not for the money, not for the money. But so our people can once again find out who they are. And that it's something to be proud of, and we will have our identity back; our children will know who they are." Les Decheneaux, Cree
Photo © Roger Moore and friend
Words from the Circle p.3 Words from the Circle p.5
Native Village Home Page
Native Village Linking Policy
For more information about keeping kids safe online, please read about the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
Native Village © Gina Boltz