WORDS FROM THE CIRCLE

NATIVE AMERICAN QUOTES

 

**During the first Gulf war a group of native Americans in Oregon wrote an open letter to President George Bush Sr, ridiculing his pretext for attacking Iraq:   "Dear President Bush,  Please send your assistance in freeing our small nation from occupation. This foreign force occupied our lands to steal our rich resources ... As in your own words, 'The occupation and overthrow of one small nation is one too many.  Yours sincerely,  An American Indian."

**"Popular culture seems to represent Native Americans as these mythical beings of the past and the Heritage month activities are trying to break down those stereotypes. People should know that we aren't a monolithic group of people. We are comedians, authors, singers, and our cultures are very much alive today." Nickole Fox

**"Reservations are prisoner of war camps and we are under military occupation."
Richard Grass, Lakota, Dakota and Nakota elder

"Our traditional Native laws supersede state, county and federal law. We have a lot of power."
Antoinette Red Woman, Tsisistas Northern Cheyenne

**"When our young people can no longer speak their language, then cultural genocide has taken place."
Darlene Pipe-Boy

**"When I thought about who we are as Indian women, I had to take a good look at myself...I was reminded about how life, to me, is a never ending learning process, a journey of discovering ourselves, what we are capable of and what we are not, what we hold in the endless sea of our soul...who are you?"
Roxanne Swentzell, Santa Clara Pueblo

***"The Wild Rice Harvest of the Anishinaabeg not only feeds the body, it feeds the soul."
Winona Laduke, Mississippi Band Anishinaabeg

**"The hearts of little children are pure, and therefore, the Great Spirit may show to them many things which older people miss."
-Black Elk (Hehaka Sapa) OGLALA LAKOTA

"It's really sad when a young person tells you he doesn't know how to pray. It's sad when a native speaker feels like he doesn't know how to pray. In Indian country, its all made up as you go along." Allen Sockabasin, Passamaquoddy

"There is still a legacy from boarding schools. All the way from a lack of parenting to feelings of oppression, to say nothing of the loss of language and culture."
Carmen Taylor, executive director of the National Indian School Board Association.

"Rice is our most important grain, as a people. It's used to tell the story of our migration."
Winona LaDuke, Ojibwe

***"Survival of our nations depended on our children's activities, skills, knowledge and acts of bravery."
David Wilkins. Lumbee

**"Each child should have the fundamental right, a constitutional right, whether it's a tribal constitutional right, federal or state constitutional right. It's time we made our constitutions have our children's rights in them so they can engage in those experiences that he or she is most anxious to explore, because it is having the right to choose that is truly indigenous to the democratic concept."
David Wilkins. Lumbee

"I am convinced that if we look deep into our respectful tribal pasts, we can identify those ideas, values, instructions, and institutions that enable our culture to thrive."
David Wilkins. Lumbee

"...we as parents, as teachers or staff, whatever level, must look deep into each of our children's eyes and souls and ask them what it is they want to learn."
David Wilkins. Lumbee

"We must return to the level of trust our ancestors had with their children."
David Wilkins. Lumbee

* "Let us boldly implement what our ancestors practiced and take the time to bring forth the knowledge, values, ceremonies, social and political institutions that bring out the spirit of every human child, no matter what age."
David Wilkins. Lumbee

"Except for Native Americans, everyone else is an immigrant."
Vickie Whitewolf

'We need tribes talking to tribes, not corporate money."
Jonathan Solomon, Gwich'in elder

**“There are lots of people who are poor and forgotten. We need to remember the elders and what they’ve done for us. We want them to know that we appreciate them.”
Thomas Mentzer, Hopi High teacher

"What is sacred to Native people today was sacred before the white man came to this land. "
Carey N. Vicent, Jicarilla Apache.

*"Let us know where your ancestors are buried. We all have the right to rest in peace."
Jimmy Arterberry, Commanche Nation.

*"We literally are still prisoners of war to the scientific professions... they never give up. What part of ‘no’ do you people not understand? We are not scientific property"
Jimmy Arterberry, Commanche Nation.

"We are still fighting to bring back our relatives. It is the insensitivity of federal agencies that makes us cry."
Tim Mentz, Standing Rock Sioux.

*"They are not rock art; they are made by the spirits. They are made by people who have been given a gift."
Tim Mentz, Standing Rock Sioux.

"There is a price to pay, a payment that has to happen to protect sacred places."
Tim Mentz, Standing Rock Sioux.

"What works for us is who we are. It is empowering. We know our blood, we know our heritage."
Carol J. Jorgensen, Tlingit.

"Some people think our language is dead, but it's not. We still have our language and we're bringing it back."
Jesse DesRosier, Blackfoot

"The difference between Native Americans and African Americans or Jews is that [Native Americans] make up barely 1 percent of the U.S. population, and compared with the other two groups have virtually no political power. Should population or political clout determine the level of tolerance we are willing to give to racist imagery?"
Jonathan Luna, Assistant U.S. Attorney

      "[Elders] who have practiced ... ceremonies most of their live, are deeply concerned when they see their sacred ways of life prostituted,"
John Gisselbrecht

      "Attempting to mimic these ceremonies with an 'anything goes attitude' is not a spiritual path, but one of disgrace and a display of lack of education. One Sunday Mass does not a pope make. One sweat lodge does not a medicine man make."
John Gisselbrecht

    "Our students are smart and they're creative. But they're not in a supportive culture. Native American students don't feel that they are part of that school system. When they turn 16, they drop out because they don't know what else to do."
Robert DePoe, Paiute

"Power comes from the heart...your head will run away from you, but your heart is always with you."
Curly Bear Wagner. Blackfoot

photo © Roger Moore and friend

 Words from the Circle p. 2

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