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You can learn a lot about the values and traditions of a culture by its proverbs.

Proverbs are simple, traditional sayings that express a perceived truth based on common sense or experience.

They are often metaphorical and are easily transmitted by oral traditions so they become key phrases repeated in a culture.

Here are some of the most thought-provoking Native American Proverbs to contemplate:

1. Life is not separate from death. It only looks that way.

— Blackfoot Proverb

2. “In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.”

― Iroquois Proverb

3. “The one who tells the stories rules the world.”

― Hopi Proverb

4. “Seek wisdom, not knowledge. Knowledge is of the past, wisdom is of the future.”

― Lumbee Proverb

5. “One finger cannot lift a pebble.”

― Hopi Proverb

6. “A people without a history is like the wind over buffalo grass.”

― Sioux Proverb

7. “If we wonder often, the gift of knowledge will come. If we never wonder, knowledge will never find us.”

― Arapaho Proverb

8. “It is better to have less thunder in the mouth and more lightning in the hand.”

― Apache Proverb

9. 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 Proverb

10. We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.

― Dakota Proverb

11. You can’t wake a person who is pretending to be asleep.

― Navajo Proverb

12. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies in yourself.

― Minquass Proverb

13. It is easy to be brave from a distance.

― Omaha Proverb

14. A good chief gives, he does not take.

― Mohawk Proverb

15. Don’t be afraid to cry. It will free your mind of sorrowful thoughts.

― Hopi Proverb

16. Before eating, always take time to thank the food.

― Arapaho Proverb

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

― Sioux Proverb

18. They are not dead who live in the hearts they leave behind.

― Tuscarora Proverb

19. All plants are our brothers and sisters. They talk to us and if we listen, we can hear them.

― Arapaho Proverb

20. All who have died are equal.

― Comanche Proverb

21. All dreams spin out from the same web.

― Hopi Proverb

22. “Man’s law changes with his understanding of man. Only the laws of the spirit remain always the same.”

― Crow Proverb

23. “Everything the power does, it does in a circle.”

― Lakota Proverb

24. “With all things and in all things, we are relatives.”

― Sioux Proverb

25. “A brave man dies only once, a coward dies many times”.

― Iowa Proverb

26. When we show our respect for other living things, they respond with respect for us.

― Arapaho Proverb

27. Ask questions from your heart and you will be answered from the heart.

– Omaha Tribe

28. It is no longer good enough to cry peace, we must act peace, live peace and live in peace.

– Shenandoah Tribe

29. Man has responsibility, not power.”

– Tuscarora Tribe

30. Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.

– Cherokee Proverb

31. It is less of a problem to be poor than to be dishonest.

– Anishinabe Proverb

32. It is easy to be brave from a distance.

– Omaha Proverb

33. Remember that your children are not your own, but are lent to you by the Creator.

― Mohawk

34. A man or woman with many children has many homes.

― Lakota Sioux

35. The heart is your center, being from your center outward.

— Anishinaabe Proverb

Here are some more Native American Proverbs where I can’t find the source among a specific tribe or cultural group.

36. Do not pray when it is raining if you do not pray when the sun is shining.

— Native American Proverb

37. Do not change horses in the middle of the river.

— Native American Proverb

38. Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture the heart.

— Native American Proverb

39. When the White man wins, it is a battle, when the Indian wins, it is a massacre.

— Native American Proverb

40. No river can return to its source, yet all rivers must have a beginning.

— Native American Proverb

41. Even your silence holds a sort of prayer.

— Native American Proverb

42. Showing kindness to a stranger is a gift that is always returned.

— Native American Proverb

43. Don’t walk behind me;
I may not lead.
Don’t walk in front of me;
I may not follow.
Walk beside me
that we may be as one.

— Native American Proverb

44. Listen to the wind, it talks.
Listen to the silence, it speaks.
Listen to your heart, it knows.

— Native American Proverb

45. A community that lacks faith in itself cannot survive.

— Native American Proverb

Kyle Pearce

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