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Learn Life Lessons From Native Americans – Native American Proverbs

Native American Proverbs have been passed down from generation to generation for centuries, and they are still relevant today. These ancient proverbs contain wisdom, wit, and insight that can be applied to our daily lives in the present day. Each proverb is a condensed form of knowledge, which speaks directly to the heart of life’s universal truths. Whether you are searching for guidance or solace during challenging times, Native American Proverbs offers timeless advice on how to live a good life.

From honoring your ancestors and respecting Mother Nature to embracing diversity and living with integrity, Native Americans have distilled their philosophy of life into these powerful sayings. There is much we can learn from their rich cultural heritage; take some time today to explore this meaningful collection of words that carries within it centuries-old lessons about navigating life’s challenges and fulfilling our potential as human beings.

Native American Proverbs

 Here are some Native American proverbs that can help inspire you to live your best life.

Tribe names are mentioned in the bracket.

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Native American Proverbs

Native American Proverbs (Hopi)

  1. Don’t be afraid to cry. It will free your mind of sorrowful thoughts. – Hopi
  2. In age, talk; in childhood, tears. – Hopi
  3. One finger cannot lift a pebble. – Hopi
  4. All dreams spin out from the same web. – Hopi
  5. The rainbow is a sign from Him who is in all things. – Hopi
  6. The one who tells the stories rules the world. – Hopi
  7. Wisdom comes only when you stop looking for it and start living the life the Creator intended for you. – Hopi
  8. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. – Hopi
Native American Proverbs

Native American Proverbs (Sioux)

With all things and in all things, we are relatives. – Sioux

The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives. – Sioux

A people without a history is like the wind over buffalo grass. – Sioux

There are many good moccasin tracks along the trail of a straight arrow. – Sioux

A man or woman with many children has many homes. – Sioux

To touch the earth is to have harmony with nature. – Sioux

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Poverty is a noose that strangles humility and breeds disrespect for God and man. – Sioux

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Native American Proverbs (Cheyenne)

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

Native American Proverbs (Arapaho)

  1. Take only what you need and leave the land as you found it. – Arapaho
  2. All plants are our brothers and sisters. They talk to us and if we listen, we can hear them. – Arapaho.
  3. Before eating, always take time to thank the food. – Arapaho
  4. When we show our respect for other living things, they respond with respect for us. – Arapaho
  5. If we wonder often, the gift of knowledge will come. – Arapaho
  6. Each bird loves to hear himself sing. – Arapaho

Native American Proverbs (Cherokee)

  1. The weakness of the enemy makes our strength. – Cherokee
  2. 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
  3. When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice. – Cherokee
  4. Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today. – Cherokee

Native American Proverbs (Navajo)

  1. A rocky vineyard does not need a prayer, but a pick ax. – Navajo
  2. There is nothing as eloquent as a rattlesnake’s tail. – Navajo
  3. You can’t wake a person who is pretending to be asleep. – Navajo
  4. Coyote is always out there waiting, and Coyote is always hungry. – Navajo
Native American Proverbs

Native American Proverbs (Lakota)

  1. Many have fallen with the bottle in their hand. – Lakota
  2. Force, no matter how concealed, begets resistance. – Lakota
  3. When a man moves away from nature his heart becomes hard. – Lakota
  4. Everything the power does, it does in a circle. – Lakota
Native American Proverbs

Native American Proverbs (Crow)

  1. Man’s law changes with his understanding of man. Only the laws of the spirit remain always the same. – Crow
  2. You already possess everything necessary to become great. – Crow
  3. Old age is not as honorable as death, but most people want it. – Crow
Native American Proverbs

Native American Proverbs (Omaha)

  1. It is easy to be brave from a distance. – Omaha
  2. The bird who has eaten cannot fly with the bird that is hungry. – Omaha
  3. Ask questions from your heart and you will be answered from the heart. – Omaha
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Native American Proverbs (Tuscarora)

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

Native American Proverbs (Blackfoot)

  1. Those that lie down with dogs, get up with fleas. – Blackfoot
  2. Life is not separate from death. It only looks that way. – Blackfoot
  3. What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset. – Blackfoot

Native American Proverbs (Shawnee)

  1. When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. – Shawnee
  2. Each person is his own judge. – Shawnee
  3. We are all one child spinning through Mother Sky. – Shawnee
Native American Proverbs

Native American Proverbs (Oklahoma)

  1. When a fox walks lame, the old rabbit jumps. – Oklahoma
  2. A starving man will eat with the wolf. – Oklahoma
  3. The coward shoots with shut eyes. – Oklahoma
Native American Proverbs

Native American Proverbs (Mohawk)

  1. Remember that your children are not your own, but are lent to you by the Creator.  – Mohawk
  2. A good chief gives, he does not take. – Mohawk
Native American Proverbs

Native American Proverbs (Shenandoah)

  1. We are made from Mother Earth and we go back to Mother Earth. – Shenandoah
  2. It is no longer good enough to cry peace, we must act peace, live peace and live in peace. – Shenandoah
Native American Proverbs

Native American Proverbs (Duwamish)

  1. Day and night cannot dwell together. – Duwamish
  2. There is no death, only a change of worlds. – Duwamish
Native American Proverbs

Native American Proverbs (Anishinabe)

  1. What the people believe is true. – Anishinabe
  2. It is less of a problem to be poor than to be dishonest. – Anishinabe
Native American Proverbs

Native American Proverbs (Nez Perce)

  1. White men have too many chiefs. – Nez Perce
  2. Every animal knows more than you do. – Nez Perce
Native American Proverbs

Native American Proverbs (Tribe Unknown)

  1. Even a small mouse has anger. – Tribe Unknown
  2. Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children. – Tribe Unknown
  3. A brave man dies but once, a coward many times. – Tribe Unknown
  4. Listening to a liar is like drinking warm water. – Tribe Unknown
  5. Regard Heaven as your father, Earth as your Mother, and all things as your Brothers and Sisters.  – Tribe Unknown
  6. Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand. – Tribe Unknown
  7. If a man is to do something more than human, he must have more than human powers. – Tribe Unknown
  8. The soul would have no rainbow if the eye had no tears. – Tribe Unknown
  9. Not every sweet root gives birth to sweet grass. – Tribe Unknown
  10. Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture the heart.  – Tribe Unknown
  11. It takes a thousand voices to tell a single story. – Tribe Unknown
  12. No river can return to its source, yet all rivers must have a beginning. – Tribe Unknown
  13. Listen, or your tongue will make you deaf. – Tribe Unknown
  14. We always return to our first loves. – Tribe Unknown
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Some more Native American Proverbs Worth Mentioning

  1. It is better to have less thunder in the mouth and more lightning in the hand. – Apache
  2. Most of us do not look as handsome to others as we do to ourselves. – Assiniboine
  3. We will be known forever by the tracks we leave. – Dakota
  4. Everyone who is successful must have dreamed of something. – Maricopa
  5. All who have died are equal. – Comanche
  6. One rain does not make a crop. – Creole
  7. Walk lightly in the spring; Mother Earth is pregnant. – Kiowa
  8. Seek wisdom, not knowledge. Knowledge is of the past, Wisdom is of the future. – Lumbee
  9. A hungry stomach makes a short prayer. – Paiute
  10. Do not wrong or hate your neighbor for it is not he that you wrong but yourself. – Pima
  11. Make my enemy brave and strong, so that if defeated, I will not be ashamed. – Plains
  12. Cherish youth, but trust old age. – Pueblo
  13. Sharing and giving are the ways of God. – Sauk
  14. The moon is not shamed by the barking of dogs. – Southwest
  15. The way of the troublemaker is thorny. – Umpqua
  16. God gives us each a song. – Ute
  17. A man must make his own arrows. – Winnebago
  18. After dark all cats are leopards. – Zuni
  19. When you die, you will be spoken of as those in the sky, like the stars. – Yurok

Native American Ten Commandments

  1. Treat the Earth and all that dwell therein with respect
  2. Remain close to the Great Spirit
  3. Show great respect for your fellow beings
  4. Work together for the benefit of all Mankind
  5. Give assistance and kindness wherever needed
  6. Do what you know to be right
  7. Look after the well-being of the Mind and Body
  8. Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater Good
  9. Be truthful and honest at all times
  10. Take full responsibility for your actions

Conclusion: Applying Lessons Learned

In conclusion, Native American Proverbs are a great source of wisdom and offer some valuable life lessons. They can help us to look at the world with fresh eyes, appreciate the beauty of nature, and recognize that we are all connected in some way. Native American Proverbs remind us to be still and appreciate our lives, and that we should always strive for balance in all aspects of our lives.

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