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Indigenous Wisdom

In case you’re tired of what rich white guys said.

If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice that most of what educated westerners are famous for saying is copped pretty directly from folk wisdom or the sayings of native peoples. Here are some Native American quotes and proverbs. Some of dubious origin, just for fun.

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.
-Native American Proverb

Lose your temper and you lose a friend; lie and you lose yourself.
-Hopi Proverb

This one actually sounds more like it might be from a Bruce Lee movie:

It is better to have less thunder in the mouth and more lightning in the hand.
-Native American Proverb

But these are painfully on the mark:

They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they kept only one; they promised to take our land, and they did.
-Red Cloud

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

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

This one is often found in collections of quotations, but is probably in fact part of an old joke:

When the white man discovered this country Indians were running it. No taxes, no debt, women did all the work.  White man thought he could improve on a system like this.
-Cherokee Saying  (?)

And this story is so hilarious you WANT to believe it...

When NASA was preparing for the Apollo project,they did some astronaut training on a Navajo Indian reservation. One day, a Navajo elder and his son were herding sheep and came across the space crew. The old man, who spoke only Navajo, asked a question which his son translated, “What are these guys in the big suits doing?”

A member of the crew said they were practicing for their trip to the moon. The old man got all excited and asked if he could send a message to the moon with the astronauts. Recognizing a promotional opportunity for the spin-doctors, the NASA folks found a tape recorder. After the old man recorded his message, they asked the son to translate it. He refused.

So the NASA reps brought the tape to the reservation where the rest of the tribe listened and laughed, but refused to translate the elder’s message to the moon.

Finally, the NASA crew called in an official government translator. He reported that the moon message said, “Watch out for these guys; they have come to steal your land.”

Posted By:Admin May 17, 2011

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