Teaching Quotes From Our Elders

We Indians live in a world of symbols and images where the spiritual and commonplace are one.

~Erdoes, 1972:109  

We are the stars that sing,
We sing with our light;
We are the birds of fire,
We fly over the sky;
Our light is a voice;
We make a road
For the spirit to pass over.

~Algonquian “Song of the Stars” in: Gibbon, 1972:238

. . . if you are good to old people, these in turn will pray to the Supreme Being for your health, long life, and success. Children were instructed explicitly to be good to the aged, to feed them, to clothe and to help them in difficulties, as well as to seek out those so blessed and ask for their prayers.

~Cooper, 1957:195

White Painted Woman said, “From here on we will have the girl’s puberty rite. When the girls first menstruate, you shall have a feast. There shall be songs for these girls. During this feast, the masked dancers shall dance in front. After that there shall be round dancing and face-to-face dancing.”

~Opter, 1965:89

First cleanse (purify) ourselves ritually with smoke or water, and then let “Wakan Tanka” make us into clean bores to work in and through the sake of others. You have seen junk and mineral deposits. People are like that, except that the deposits are the things that we put in “Wakan Tanka’s” way when we ask him to help us.

~Fools Crow
Fools Crow Wisdom & Power
Thomas E. Mails
Council Oak Books
Tulsa: 1991

True Civilization.
The man who sat on the ground in his tipi, thinking of life and its meaning, accepting the kinship of all creatures and knowing unity with all things, was drawing into his being the true heart of civilization.

~Chief Luther Standing Bear

Of all the teachings we receive, this one is the most important:
Nothing belongs to you of what there is, of what you take you must share.
Touch a child—they are my people.
The sunlight does not leave its marks on the grass. So we, too, pass silently.
Many shores I have sailed to in my canoe,
Often against strong winds.
Choose the tree well, my brother,
If it is to carry you to distant shores.
If the very old will remember, the very young will listen.
Already signs of new life are arising among my people after our sad winter has passed. We have discarded our broken arrows and our empty quivers, for we know what served us in the past can never serve us again.

~My Heart Soars, by Chief Dan George
Buffalo: Hancock House Publishers 1974

They made us many promises, more than I can remember —
They promised to take our land, and they took it! 

~Red Cloud, Lakota

They will teach us to quarrel about god . . . We do not want to do that. We may quarrel with men sometimes about things on earth, but we never quarrel about the Great Spirit. We do not want to learn that.  

~Chief Joseph, New Perce

Let him be just and deal kindly with my people, for the dead are not powerless.
Dead, did I say; there is no death, only a change of worlds.  

~Chief Seattle (Sealth), Duwamish

Treatment is discovery. Aftercare is recovery.
Empowerment belongs to Ego. To rekindle another’s spirit is the eternal flame of truth.
Beyond the wholesome discipline of life, be gentle with yourself


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