Famous Quotes on Indigenous Societies

100 Famous Quotes on Indigenous Societies

In my years as an IB educator, I’ve often emphasized the profound impact of indigenous societies on our understanding of knowledge. Today, I provide 100 quotes about indigenous societies, organized into ten categories. These quotes can be a starting point for exploring knowledge and understanding indigenous perspectives in the context of TOK optional themes.

Indigenous Life and Culture

  1. “We are all one child spinning through Mother Sky.” — Shawnee
  2. “The Earth does not belong to us; we belong to the Earth.” — Chief Seattle, Suquamish and Duwamish
  3. “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” — Native American Proverb
  4. “One finger cannot lift a pebble.” — Hopi Proverb
  5. “When we show our respect for other living things, they respond with respect for us.” — Arapaho Proverb
  6. “Those that lie down with dogs, get up with fleas.” — Blackfoot Proverb
  7. “A brave man dies but once, a coward many times.” — Iowa Proverb
  8. “Our first teacher is our own heart.” — Cheyenne Proverb
  9. “Wisdom comes only when you stop looking for it and start living the life the Creator intended for you.” — Hopi
  10. “The more you know, the less you need.” — Aboriginal Saying

Indigenous Spirituality and Beliefs

  1. “The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears.” — Minquass Proverb
  2. “Everything the Power does, it does in a circle.” — Lakota Proverb
  3. “Man’s law changes with his understanding of man. Only the laws of the spirit remain always the same.” — Crow Proverb
  4. “The Great Spirit is in all things; he is in the air we breathe. The Great Spirit is our Father, but the Earth is our Mother. She nourishes us; that which we put into the ground she returns to us.” — Big Thunder (Bedagi) Wabanaki, Algonquin
  5. “Walk lightly in the spring; Mother Earth is pregnant.” — Kiowa Proverb
  6. “All dreams spin out from the same web.” — Hopi Proverb
  7. “Listen to the wind, it talks. Listen to the silence, it speaks. Listen to your heart, it knows.” — Native American Proverb
  8. “I am the land and the land is me.” — Aboriginal Saying
  9. “We are as much alive as we keep the Earth alive.” — Chief Dan George
  10. “Everything on the Earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission.” — Mourning Dove Salish

Indigenous Knowledge and Learning

  1. “Knowledge is rooted in all things — the world is a library.” — Lakota Proverb
  2. “He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of the gods.” — Aeschylus
  3. “Do not judge your neighbor until you walk two moons in his moccasins.” — Cheyenne Proverb
  4. “Learning is not attained by chance; it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.” — Abigail Adams
  5. “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” — Benjamin Franklin
  6. “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” — W.B. Yeats
  7. “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” — Socrates
  8. “Change is the end result of all true learning.” — Leo Buscaglia
  9. “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Gandhi
  10. “The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you.” — B.B. King

Challenges and Resilience

  1. “They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they never kept but one; they promised to take our land, and they took it.” — Red Cloud, Oglala Lakota
  2. “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.” — Crowfoot, Blackfoot warrior and orator
  3. “In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.” — Iroquois Maxim
  4. “When the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten, and the last stream poisoned, you will realize that you cannot eat money.” — Cree Proverb
  5. “It is less of a problem to be poor than to be dishonest.” — Anishinabe Proverb
  6. “The weakness of the enemy makes our strength.” — Cherokee Proverb
  7. “It is easy to be brave from a distance.” — Omaha Proverb
  8. “A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground.” — Cheyenne Proverb
  9. “There is no death, only a change of worlds.” — Duwamish Proverb
  10. “Do not wrong or hate your neighbor for it is not he that you wrong but yourself.” — Pima Proverb

Harmony with Nature

  1. “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” — Native American Proverb
  2. “Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.” — Cree Proverb
  3. “Take only memories, leave only footprints.” — Chief Seattle
  4. “This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all.” — Chief Seattle
  5. “Treat the earth well. It was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children.” — Kenyan Proverb
  6. “The frog does not drink up the pond in which it lives.” — Native American Proverb
  7. “We do not go into the forest to escape the world, but to join it.” — Native American Saying
  8. “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” — Lao Tzu
  9. “The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it.” — Chief Joseph, Nez Perce
  10. “You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin.” — Native American Proverb
famous quotes on indigenous societies

Indigenous Wisdom and Philosophy

  1. “Listen or your tongue will keep you deaf.” — Native American Proverb
  2. “The more you give, the more good things come to you.” — Potawatomi
  3. “We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.” — Dakota Proverb
  4. “Wisdom comes in silence.” — Oglala Lakota
  5. “He who would do great things should not attempt them all alone.” — Seneca Proverb
  6. “Seek wisdom, not knowledge. Knowledge is of the past; wisdom is of the future.” — Lumbee
  7. “Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.” — Cherokee Proverb
  8. “It is not enough to know how to ride; you must also know how to fall.” — Mexican Indian Proverb
  9. “Every animal knows more than you do.” — Nez Perce Proverb
  10. “A people without history is like wind on the buffalo grass.” — Sioux

Respect for Nature and Environment

  1. “The Earth is our Mother, care for her.” — Native American Proverb
  2. “What we do to the web, we do to ourselves.” — Chief Seattle
  3. “Nature is not a place to visit, it is home.” — Gary Snyder
  4. “The land is sacred; it belongs to the countless numbers who are dead, the few who are living, and the multitude of those yet to be born.” — Nigerian Proverb
  5. “The river tells no lies, though standing on the shore the dishonest man still hears them.” — Fipa Proverb
  6. “Those who have one foot in the canoe, and one foot in the boat, are going to fall into the river.” — Tuscarora
  7. “When you know Nature, you will know yourself.” — Desert Proverb
  8. “A rocky vineyard does not need a prayer, but a pick ax.” — Navajo Proverb
  9. “The environment is in us, not outside of us.” — Black Elk
  10. “The frog does not jump in the daytime without reason.” — Igbo Proverb

Community and Social Responsibility

  1. “One does not sell the land people walk on.” — Crazy Horse, Lakota
  2. “We are as much alive as we keep the earth alive.” — Chief Dan George
  3. “I am not an Indian; I am the people, I am an Indian.” — Sitting Bull
  4. “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” — Mahatma Gandhi
  5. “I do not think the measure of a civilization is how tall its buildings of concrete are, but rather how well its people have learned to relate to their environment and fellow man.” — Sun Bear of the Chippewa Tribe
  6. “The well-being of the individual is tied to the well-being of the community, and the community’s well-being is tied to the individual’s.” — Native American Saying
  7. “Be active in your own rescue — if you care for yourself at all — and do not look to the outside world.” — Marcus Aurelius
  8. “Our first teacher is our own heart.” — Cheyenne
  9. “Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.” — Anthony J. D’Angelo
  10. “A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm.” — Henrik Ibsen

Resilience and Strength

  1. “Fall seven times, stand up eight.” — Japanese Proverb
  2. “The bird who has eaten cannot fly with the bird that is hungry.” — Omaha Proverb
  3. “There is nothing as eloquent as a rattlesnake’s tail.” — Navajo Proverb
  4. “It does not require many words to speak the truth.” — Chief Joseph, Nez Perce
  5. “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” — Mahatma Gandhi
  6. “A brave man dies but once, a coward many times.” — Iowa Proverb
  7. “Cry me a river, build a bridge, and get over it.” — Apache Saying
  8. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” — Edmund Burke
  9. “The rain falls on the just and the unjust.” — Hopi Proverb
  10. “Perseverance is better than defeat.” — Kanuri Proverb

Harmony and Balance

  1. “Life is not separate from death. It only looks that way.” — Blackfoot Proverb
  2. “All things share the same breath — the beast, the tree, the man. The air shares its spirit with all the life it supports.” — Chief Seattle
  3. “Find balance in your life. Work hard but don’t let work take over your life.” — Maori Proverb
  4. “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
  5. “Balance is not something you find, it’s something you create.” — Jana Kingsford
  6. “The rainbow is a sign from Him who is in all things.” — Hopi
  7. “Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.” — Margaret Lee Runbeck
  8. “The more you know, the less you need.” — Aboriginal Saying
  9. “The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” — Ram Dass
  10. “In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” — Aristotle
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These quotes, drawn from various indigenous cultures, provide a rich tapestry of perspectives on life, spirituality, knowledge, resilience, and harmony with nature. They can be powerful starting points for discussions and reflections in the context of the Theory of Knowledge and understanding of indigenous societies.

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