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Learn about the histories of Native and Indigenous people with these inspirational quotes.
Every year, Native American Heritage Day is celebrated on the Friday after Thanksgiving to honor Native people and communities in the United States. The civil holiday is also part of Native American Indian Heritage Month, which acknowledges the rich culture and history of Native American and Indigenous people. It’s a great time to learn all about different tribes, their leaders and contributions, and the oppression and challenges that Native people have faced from the time their land was first colonized.
Ahead, find some of the most uplifting and inspirational Native American quotes from different tribe leaders and members who persevered through the challenges that came their way.
“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.” — Big Thunder Wabanaki, Algonquin
“I have seen that in any great undertaking it is not enough for a man to depend simply upon himself.” — Lone Man (Isna-la-wica), Teton Sioux
“Observation was certain to have its rewards. Interest, wonder and admiration grew, and the fact was appreciated that life was more than mere human manifestations. It was expressed in a multitude of forms. This appreciation enriched Lakota existence. Life was vivid and pulsing; nothing was casual and commonplace. The Indian lived – lived in every sense of the word – from his first to his last breath.” — Chief Luther Standing Bear
“We must protect the forests for our children, grandchildren, and children yet to be born. We must protect the forests for those who can’t speak for themselves such as the birds, animals, fish, and trees.” — Qwatsinas (Hereditary Chief Edward Moody), Nuxalk Nation
“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…” — White Elk
“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
“May the stars carry your sadness away, May the flowers fill your heart with beauty, May hope forever wipe away your tears, And, above all, may silence make you strong.” — Chief Dan George, Tsleil-Waututh Nation
“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, Tsleil-Waututh Nation
“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.” — Heinmot Tooyalaket (Chief Joseph), Nez Perce Leader
“When you begin a great work, you can’t expect to finish it all at once. Therefore, do you and your brothers press on, and let nothing discourage you ’til you have entirely finished what you have begun.” — Teedyuscung, King of the Lenape people
“It is better to have less thunder in the mouth and more lightning in the hand.” — Apache Tribe
“When you are in doubt, be still, and wait; when doubt no longer exists for you, then go forward with courage.So long as mists envelop you, be still; be still until the sunlight pours through and dispels the mists– as it surely will. Then act with courage.” — Chief White Eagle, Ponca
“And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell, and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being.” — Black Elk, Black Elk Speaks
“Love is something you and I must have. We must have it because our spirit feeds upon it … Without love, our self-esteem weakens. Without it, our courage fails. Without love, we can no longer look out confidently at the world. We turn inward and begin to feed upon our personalities, and little by little we destroy ourselves. With it, we are creative … With it, and with it alone, we are able to sacrifice for others.” — Chief Dan George, Tsleil-Waututh Nation

“We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.” — Dakota Tribe
“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, Duwamish
“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.” — Crowfoot, Blackfoot warrior and orator, 1830-1890
“Go forward with courage. When you are in doubt, be still, and wait; when doubt no longer exists for you, then go forward with courage. So long as mists envelop you, be still; be still until the sunlight pours through and dispels the mists – as it surely will. Then act with courage.” — Chief White Eagle, Ponca Chief
“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, Chippewa
“You have to look deeper, way below the anger, the hurt, the hate, the jealousy, the self-pity, way down deeper where the dreams lie, son. Find your dream. It’s the pursuit of the dream that heals you.” — Billy Mills, Oglala Lakota
“It was our belief that the love of possessions is a weakness to be overcome … Children must early learn the beauty of generosity. They are taught to give what they prize most, that they may taste the happiness of giving. The Indians, in their simplicity, literally give away all that they have to relatives, to guests of other tribes or clans. But above all, to the poor and the aged, from whom they can hope for no return.” — Ohiyesa (also known as Charles Alexander Eastman), Santee Dakota
“I am poor and naked, but I am the chief of the nation. We do not want riches but we do want to train our children right. Riches would do us no good. We could not take them with us to the other world. We do not want riches. We want peace and love.” — Red Cloud, Oglala Lakota Sioux
“Honor the sacred. Honor the Earth, our Mother. Honor the Elders. Honor all with whom we share the Earth:-Four-leggeds, two-leggeds, winged ones, Swimmers, crawlers, plant and rock people. Walk in balance and beauty.” — Native American Elder
“A frog does not drink up the pond in which it lives.” — American Indian proverb
“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 the Way it’s Going to be.” — Lakota Instructions for Living, passed down from White Buffalo Calf Woman

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