Native American Faiths
"You will truly have good lives if you help each other. That is the way you could make each other happy—always feel willing to do for each other. This you are to do as long as the people's earth remains."
—White Buffalo Dance, Fox
" Kindness is to use one's will to guard one's speech and conduct so as not to injure anyone."
—Oral Tradition, Omaha
"Our parents taught us that lying was the ‘great shame’—that it was the ‘battle-shield behind which the coward hid his shame.’"
—Buffalo Child Long Lance, Sioux
"Stealing is a bad thing. One who is not in the habit of stealing easily continues to get property for his own."
—Singing Around Rite, Fox
"O Great Spirit, I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother, but to fight my greatest enemy—myself. So when life fades, as a fading sunset, my spirit may come to You without shame."
—Yellow Lark, Sioux
"We have a religion which was given to our forefathers and has been handed down to us, their children. It teaches us to be thankful, to be united, and to love one another. We never quarrel about religion."
—Red Jacket, Seneca
Native American worship takes place in the cathedral of Nature, frequently in silence. The fruits of silence are thought to be self-control, true courage, endurance, patience, dignity, and reverence.
"Guard your tongue in youth, and in age you may mature a thought that will be of much use to your people," said Chief Wabashaw of the Mdewakanton Sioux.
"Seek lonely places and be still, listening, hearing the songs and cries of the winged ones, the sounds of the four-leggeds, and the cries of the insect people; feeling the breath and touch of the earth, of leaves, of bark; for all have messages for you from the Above One—Let your prayers rise like smoke rises from our fires, freed from all selfish desires," spoke Sees-Beyond-The-Lightning of the Sioux.
Through group rituals such as the sweat lodge, sacred pipe ceremony, powerful chants, and dances, the Native American strives to purify the body, mind, heart, and soul in order to be an honorable and useful member of the tribe.
Doing good deeds for one’s people is held in the highest honor. "Let neither cold, nor hunger, nor pain, nor the fear of them, neither the bristling teeth of danger, nor the very jaws of death itself, prevent you from doing a good deed." These words were spoken by an old chief to a scout about to seek buffalo in mid-winter for the relief of starving people.
Native Americans have an enlightened attitude about death. Death holds no terror for them. It is met with calmness and simplicity; an honorable end is the last gift to one’s family and descendants.
Native Americans are encouraged to compose a "death song" to chant courageously in time of danger and at the time of death itself.
"When you die—sing your death song and die like a hero going home." —Tecumseh, Shawnee
For more on Native American faiths, go to religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/nrms/naspirit.html.
All Faiths Hall Quotations
"We do not walk alone; Great Being walks beside us. Know this and be grateful." —Polingaysi Qoyawayme, Hopi
"My great corn plants, among them I walk, I speak to them, they hold out their hands to me." —Navajo
"Our entire way of life will change—but it will never die, because it is of the spirit. It is a truth, and truth cannot die." —White Wolf, Crow
"Fair is the clear sky, the green grass, Yet more fair is peace among men." —Wawan Ceremony, Omah