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Native Americans › Articles

Images of the Native American people - the tribes, their dress, and their lifestyles.

The best way to understand the people who first inhabited North America, Native Americans, is through their own words. The following quotes contain some of the wisdom passed down through generations of experience with the lands that are now called Canada, the United States, and Mexico:

"We are now about to take our leave and kind farewell to our native land, the country the Great Spirit gave our Fathers, we are on the eve of leaving that country that gave us birth, it is with sorrow we are forced by the white man to quit the scenes of our childhood...we bid farewell to it and all we hold dear." - Charles Hicks, Tsalagi (Cherokee) Vice Chief, just prior to the Trail of Tears, November 4, 1838

"Upon suffering beyond suffering: the Red Nation shall rise again and it shall be a blessing for a sick world. A world filled with broken promises, selfishness and separations. A world longing for light again. I see a time of Seven Generations when all the colors of mankind will gather under the Sacred Tree of Life and the whole Earth will become one circle again. In that day, there will be those among the Lakota who will carry knowledge and understanding of unity among all living things and the young white ones will come to those of my people and ask for this wisdom. I salute the light within your eyes where the whole Universe dwells. For when you are at that center within you and I am that place within me, we shall be one." - Crazy Horse, Oglala Sioux Chief, said on September 1, 1877, 4 days before he was bayoneted by a U.S. soldier while in custody

"I have heard you intend to settle us on a reservation near the mountains. I don't want to settle. I love to roam over the prairies. There I feel free and happy, but when we settle down we grow pale and die.” - Satanta, Kiowa Chief

"Conversation was never begun at once, nor in a hurried manner. No one was quick with a question, no matter how important, and no one was pressed for an answer. A pause giving time for thought was the truly courteous way of beginning and conducting a conversation. Silence was meaningful with the Lakota, and his granting a space of silence to the speech-maker and his own moment of silence before talking was done in the practice of true politeness and regard for the rule that, "thought comes before speech." - Luther Standing Bear, Oglala Sioux Chief

"Out of the Indian approach to life there came a great freedom, an intense and absorbing respect for life, enriching faith in a Supreme Power, and principles of truth, honesty, generosity, equity, and brotherhood as a guide to mundane relations." - Luther Standing Bear, Oglala Sioux Chief

"The Earth is the Mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it. You might as well expect the river to run backward as that any man who was born a free man should be contented when penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases.” - Chief Joseph, Nez Perce

"Among the Indians there have been no written laws. Customs handed down from generation to generation have been the only laws to guide them. Every one might act different from what was considered right did he choose to do so, but such acts would bring upon him the censure of the Nation . . . This fear of the Nation's censure acted as a mighty band, binding all in one social, honorable compact." - George Copway (Kah-ge-ga-bowh) Ojibwa Chief

"In the beginning of all things, wisdom and knowledge were with the animals, for Tirawa, the One Above, did not speak directly to man. He sent certain animals to tell men that he showed himself through the beast, and that from them, and from the stars and the sun and moon should man learn . . . all things tell of Tirawa." - Eagle Chief (Letakos-Lesa) Pawnee

These words describe the lives and principles of Native Americans - their images show their customs and dress.