Native American proverbs

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I love fools experiments. I am always making them.
Charles Darwin
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Unknown Tribe

  • "We do not inherit the world from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children. Duty on us to return it to them in the absolute situation" tribe unknown
  • "Listening to a liar is like drinking warm water." tribe unknown
  • "When a fox walks lame, the old rabbit jumps." Oklahoma
  • "A starving man will eat with the wolf." Oklahoma
  • "The moon is not shamed by the barking of dogs." Southwest
  • "Even a small mouse has anger." tribe unknown
  • "Make my enemy brave and strong, so that if defeated, I will not be ashamed." Plains
  • "Not every sweet root gives birth to sweet grass." tribe unknown
  • "The coward shoots with eyes." Oklahoma
  • "If a man is to do something more than human, he must have more than human powers." tribe unknown
  • "If you raindance... You will get your teepee wet."
  • "Tell me, and I'll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I'll understand."
  • "Tell the truth always even if it is bitter to taste."
  • "If you chase two rabbits, you will lose them both."
  • "The Great Spirit gave you two ears and only one mouth, so you can talk half as much as you listen."
  • "If you take [a copy of] the Christian Bible and put it out in the wind and the rain, soon the paper on which the words are printed will disintegrate and the words will be gone. Our bible IS the wind."


  • "Each bird loves to hear himself sing." Arapaho
  • "All plants are our brothers and sisters. They talk to us and if we listen, we can hear them." Arapaho
  • "If we wonder often, the gift of knowledge will come" Arapaho


  • "Those that lie down with dogs, get up with fleas." Blackfoot
  • "Life is not separate from death. It only looks that way." Blackfoot


  • "Don't let yesterday use up too much of today." Cherokee
  • "The weakness of the enemy makes our strength." Cherokee
  • "Yigaquu osaniyu adanvto adadoligi nigohilvi nasquv utloyasdi nihi" Cherokee - "May the Great Spirit's blessings always be with you."
  • "Ea Nigada Qusdi Idadadvhn" Cherokee - "All my relations in creation."
  • "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."


  • "Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
  • "Do not judge your neighbor until you walk two moons in his moccasins." Cheyenne
  • "A danger foreseen is half-avoided." Cheyenne
  • "A good soldier is a poor scout." Cheyenne
  • "Our first teacher is our own heart." Cheyenne
  • "If a man is as wise as a serpent, he can afford to be as harmless as a dove" Cheyenne


  • "All who have died are equal." Comanche


  • "Listen or your tongue will keep you deaf. " Cree
  • "Only when the last tree has withered, the last fish has been caught, and the last river has been poisoned, will you realize you cannot eat money." Cree


  • "One rain does not make a crop, but crop makes rain." Creole


  • "You already possess everything necessary to become great." Crow
  • "Old age is not as honorable as death, but most people want it." Crow


  • "There is no death, money changes hands." Duwamish
  • "Day and night cannot dwell together." Duwamish


  • "The rain falls on the just and the unjust." Hopi (Matt. 5:45)
  • "All dreams spin out from the same web." Hopi
  • "The one who tells the stories rules the world." Hopi
  • "Don't be afraid to cry. It will free your mind of sorrowful thoughts." Hopi
  • "Wisdom comes only when you stop looking for it and start living the life the Creator intended for you." Hopi
  • "One finger cannot lift a pebble." Hopi
  • "The rainbow is a sign from Him who is in all things." Hopi
  • "In age, talk; in childhood, tears." Hopi
  • "In death, I am born." Hopi


  • "Walk lightly in the spring; Mother Earth is pregnant." Kiowa


  • "Many have fallen with the bottle in their hand." Lakota
  • "With all things and in all things, we are relatives." Lakota
  • "Poverty is a noose that strangles humility and breeds disrespect for God and man." Lakota
  • "The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives." Lakota
  • "Force, no matter how concealed, begets resistance." Lakota
  • "When a man moves away from nature his heart becomes hard." Lakota
  • "A people without a history is like the wind over buffalo grass." Lakota
  • "There are many good moccasin tracks along the trail of a straight arrow." Lakota
  • "Wakan Tanka Nici Un" Lakota - "May the Great Spirit walk with you."
  • "Ho! Mitakuye Oyasin" Lakota - "We are all related."
  • "To touch the earth is to have harmony with nature." Oglala Lakota
  • "We will be known forever by the tracks we leave." Dakota


  • "It is easy to be brave from a distance." Omaha
  • "Ask questions from your heart and you will be answered from the heart." Omaha
  • "The bird who has eaten cannot fly with the bird that is hungry." Omaha


  • "Seek wisdom, not knowledge. Knowledge is of the past, Wisdom is of the future." Lumbee


  • "Everyone who is successful must have dreamed of something." Maricopa


  • "If you see no reason for giving thanks, then don't give thanks. " Minquass


  • "A good chief gives, he does not take... much." Mohawk


  • "It's impossible to awaken a man who is pretending to be asleep." Navajo
  • "A rocky vineyard does not need a prayer, but a pick ax." Navajo
  • "There is nothing more eloquent then a rattlesnake's tail." Navajo
  • "You cannot see the future with tears in your eyes." Navajo

Nez Perce

  • "Every animal knows more than you do." Nez Perce
  • "White men have too many chiefs." Nez Perce


  • "A hungry stomach makes a short prayer." Paiute


  • "Do not wrong or hate your neighbor for it is not he that you wrong but yourself." Pima


  • "A good man does not take what belongs to someone else." Pueblo
  • "Cherish youth, but trust old age." Pueblo


  • "Sharing and giving are the ways of God." Sauk


  • "He who would do great things should not attempt them all alone." Seneca


  • "We are all one child spinning through Mother Sky." Shawnee
  • "Each person is his own judge." Shawnee
  • "Sing your death song and die like a hero going home." Chief Tecumseh - Shawnee
  • "Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view and demand that they respect yours." Chief Tecumseh - Shawnee


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


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


  • "The way of the troublemaker is thorny." Umpqua


  • "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
  • "God gives us each a song." Ute


  • "A man must make his own arrows." Winnebago


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


  • "Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view and demand that they respect yours." Chief Tecumseh
  • "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
  • "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?" Sogoyewapha, "Red Jacket" - Seneca
  • "Lose your temper and you lose a friend; lie and you lose yourself." Hopi
  • "We who are clay blended by the Master Potter, come from the kiln of Creation in many hues. How can people say one skin is colored, when each has its own coloration? What should it matter that one bowl is dark and the other pale, if each is of good design and serves its purpose well." Polingaysi Qoyawayma, Hopi
  • "There is no such thing as 'part Cherokee.' Either you're Cherokee or you're not. It isn't the quantity of Cherokee blood in your veins that is important, but the quality of it...your pride in it. I have seen full-bloods who have virtually no idea of the great legacy entrusted to their care. Yet, I have seen people with as little as 1/500th blood quantum who inspire the spirits of their ancestors because they make being Cherokee a proud part of a their everyday life." Jim Pell, Principal Chief of the North Alabama Cherokee Tribe
  • "A man who would not love his father's grave is worse than a wild animal." Chief Joseph, Nez Perce
  • "In our every deliberation we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations." From the Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy