The Native Americans' way of living was deeply rooted in their connection to Nature. They believed that the Earth was a living being that communicated with them, and they listened to and honored it. They lived in such a way that was in harmony with the ecological structure and balance of their environment.
Here are some quotes from their leaders and other prominent people on environmental topics such as the Earth, land ownership, Mother Nature, water, and the Great Spirit.
"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."
"Listen to all the teachers in the woods. Watch the trees, the animals and all living things- you’ll learn more from them than from books."
"The man who sat on the ground in his tipi meditating on life and its meaning, accepting the kinship of all creatures and acknowledging unity with the universe of things, was infusing into his being the true essence of civilization."
-Luther Standing Bear
"We are in this together, my friends, the rich, the poor, the red, white, black, brown, and yellow. We share responsibility for Mother Earth and those who live and breathe upon her. Never forget that."
"The earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the sons of the earth... This we know: all things are connected like the blood which unites one family."
"When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light, for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food and the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies in yourself."
"The American Indian is of the soil, whether it be the region of forests, plains, pueblos, or mesas. He fits into the landscape, for the hand that fashioned the continent also fashioned the man for his surroundings. He once grew as naturally as the wild sunflowers, he belongs just as the buffalo ."
-Luther standing Bear
"I believe that ancient tribal cultures have important lessons to teach the rest of the world about the interconnectedness of all living things and the simple fact that our very existence is dependent upon the natural world we are rapidly destroying."
"What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to man. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth."
"Regard heaven as your father, Earth as your mother, and all that lives as your brothers and sisters."
-Old Native American Proverb
No one owns the water.
No one owns the land.
No one owns the oceans.
No one owns the sand.
These are given by our mother.
The Planet provides for free.
Only by the hands of the greedy,
does the Earth require a fee.
-Native Indian Poem
"The Cherokee lives as a natural part of his environment and strives to complement it, not subdue or dominate it."
-Huey P. Long
We do not want riches. We want peace and love.
"Is there not something worthy of perpetuation in our Indian spirit of democracy, where Earth, our mother, was free to all, and no one sought to impoverish or enslave his neighbor?"
"When we Indians kill meat, we eat it all up. When we dig roots, we make little holes. When we build houses, we make little holes. When we burn grass for grasshoppers, we don’t ruin things. We shake down acorns and pine nuts. We don’t chop down the trees. We only use dead wood. But the White people plow up the ground, pull down the trees, kill everything... the White people pay no attention... How can the spirit of the earth like the White man? Everywhere the White man has touched it, it is sore."
"One does not sell the land people walk on."
"The lands of the planet call to humankind for redemption... It calls for the integration of lands and peoples in harmonious unity. The land waits for those who can discern their rhythms. The peculiar genius of each continent—each river valley, the rugged mountains, the placid lakes- all call for relief from the constant burden of exploitation."
-Vine Deloria Jr
"All things are the works of the Great Spirit. We should know that He is within all things: the trees, the grasses, the rivers, the mountains, and all the four-legged animals, and the winged peoples; and even more important, we should understand that He is also above all these things and peoples."
"I fear no man, and I depend on the Great Spirit."
"There is one God looking down on us all. We are all children of one God. God is listening to me. The sun, the darkness, the winds, are all listening to what we now say."
"Great Spirit, Great Spirit, my Grandfather, all over the earth the faces of living things are all alike... Look upon these faces of children without number and with children in their arms, that they may face the winds and walk the good road to the day of the quiet."