on the American Indian population before European contact range
from between 2 and 18 million. By
1890, only 250,000 native Americans remained.
(1) The total death
toll has been estimated at around 100 million American Indians
from the time of Columbus' arrival to the end of the Indian
Wars 400 years later.
“Over 100 million killed”.
1992. Oxford Press)
It is perhaps ironic,
considering the condition of the modern world, that the American Indian
way of life existed relatively unchanged for so many thousands
years... only to be eradicated overnight by our 'superior'
European system. It is certain that we lost much in the process
of 'conversion' and 'assimilation' of the American Indians, but
undoubtedly greater was the chance to witness (and learn from) a
human culture that had managed to develop a philosophy and
traditions in harmony with the rhythms of the natural
world, offering an ecological case-study without comparison.
'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.
All things connect...'
(Chief Seattle, 1854)
According to the currently accepted theory of the first
settlement of the Americas, migrations from Eurasia to the Americas took place across the
Bering Strait land bridge. The number of migrations is
still debated. Falling sea levels created the Bering
land bridge that joined Siberia to Alaska about 60,000 -
25,000 years ago. The latest this migration could have
taken place is 12,000 years ago; the earliest remains
presently believed that 3 major
migrations occurred, as traced by linguistic
and genetic data. These early Palaeo-Indians
soon spread throughout the Americas,
diversifying into many hundreds of
culturally distinct nations and tribes. By
8,000 BC the North American climate was similar to today's. A study published in
2012 gives genetic backing to the 1986
theory put forward by linguist
Joseph Greenberg that the Americas must
have been populated in three waves, based on
Cultures: (Extract from Wikipedia)
Palaeo-Indian cultures occupied North America, from around the
Great Plains and
Great Lakes of the modern
United States of America and
Canada, as well as adjacent areas to the West and
Southwest. According to the oral histories of many of
the indigenous peoples of the Americas, they had been
living on this continent since their genesis, as described
by a wide range of traditional
creation stories. However, genetic and linguistic data connect the indigenous
people of this continent with ancient northeast Asians.
Archaeological and linguistic data has also now enabled scholars
to determine some of the migrations within the Americas.
Unlike in the old world however, there are noticeably no
remains to be uncovered of lost, unknown civilisations, as
the Indians remained mostly tribal, and were greatly
dependant on natures harvest, something which kept a check
on population and the growth into the 'great' civilisations
seen in the old world, or even in the South American
continent. The following are some of the better known
cultures that existed before Columbus' arrival in 1492.
A List of the Primary North
American Indian Cultures (Pre-Columbus).
Clovis Culture: (c. 9,100 to 8,850 BC). A
megafauna hunting culture, primarily identified
by use of fluted
spear points. Artefacts from this culture were first
excavated in 1932 near
Clovis, New Mexico. The Clovis culture ranged over
much of North America and also appeared in South
America. The culture is identified by the distinctive
Clovis point, a flaked flint spear-point with a
notched flute, by which it was inserted into a shaft.
Dating of Clovis materials has been by association with
animal bones and by the use of
carbon dating methods. Recent re-examinations of
Clovis materials using improved carbon-dating methods
produced results of 11,050 and 10,800 radiocarbon years
Folsom Tradition: (c. 9,000 BC and 8,000 BC). Characterized by use of flint
points' as projectile tips, and activities known
from kill sites, where slaughter and butchering of
bison took place. Folsom tools were left behind
between 9000 BCE and 8000 BCE.
The Na-Dené-speaking peoples:
(c. 8,000 BC). They migrated into Alaska
and northern Canada, south along the Pacific Coast, into
the interior of Canada, and south to the Great Plains
and the American Southwest. They were the earliest
ancestors of the Athabascan-speaking peoples, including
the present-day and historical Navajo and Apache. They
constructed large multi-family dwellings in their
villages, which were used seasonally. People did not
live there year round, but for the summer to hunt and
fish, and to gather food supplies for the winter.
Oshara Tradition: (c. 5,500 BC to 600
AD). These people were part of the
Southwestern Archaic Tradition centred in
north-central New Mexico, the
San Juan Basin, the
Rio Grande Valley, southern
Colorado, and south-eastern Utah.
(c. 3,500 BC - 2,800 BC). Archaeologists have explored and dated eleven Middle
Archaic sites in present-day Louisiana and Florida
at which early cultures built complexes with multiple
mounds; they were societies of hunter-gatherers
rather than the settled agriculturalists believed
necessary according to the theory of
Neolithic Revolution to sustain such large villages
over long periods. The prime example is
Watson Brake in northern Louisiana, whose 11-mound
complex is dated to 3,500 BC, making it the oldest,
dated site in the Americas for such complex
Poverty Point culture:
(c. 2,200 BC - 700 BC). A Late Archaic
archaeological culture that inhabited the area of the
lower Mississippi Valley and surrounding Gulf Coast.
Evidence of this culture has been found at more than 100
sites, from the major complex at
Poverty Point, Louisiana across a 100-mile (160 km)
range to the
Jaketown Site near
Belzoni, Mississippi. Poverty Point is a 1 square
mile (2.6 km2) complex of six major earthwork
concentric rings, with additional platform mounds at the
site. Artefacts show the people traded with other Native
Americans located from Georgia to the Great Lakes
region. This is one among numerous mound sites of
complex indigenous cultures throughout the Mississippi
and Ohio valleys. They were one of several succeeding
cultures often referred to as the
Woodland period: (c. 1,000 BC - 1,000 AD).
The term "Woodland" was coined in the 1930s and refers to
prehistoric sites dated between the
Archaic period and the
Mississippian cultures. It is a blanket term for a
number of Indian American cultures in the eastern part of
North America at that time.
'Tradition': (c. 200 BC - 500 AD). This was not a single
culture or society, but a widely dispersed set of
related populations, who were connected by a common
network of trade routes,
known as the Hopewell Exchange System. At its greatest
extent, the Hopewell exchange system ran from the
South-eastern United States into the South-eastern Canadian shores of
Lake Ontario. Within this area, societies
participated in a high degree of exchange; most activity
was conducted along the waterways that served as their
major transportation routes. The Hopewell exchange
system traded materials from all over the United States.
Mississippian culture (900 AD - 1,700 AD), which extended throughout the
Ohio and Mississippi valleys and built sites throughout
the Southeast, created the largest earthworks in North America north of Mexico, most
Cahokia, on a tributary of the Mississippi River in
present-day Illinois. Its ten-story
Monks Mound has a larger circumference than the
Pyramid of the Sun at
Teotihuacan or the
Great Pyramid of
Egypt. The 6 square miles (16 km2) city
complex was based on the culture's cosmology; it
included more than 100 mounds, positioned to support
their sophisticated knowledge of
astronomy, and built with knowledge of varying soil
types. It included a
Woodhenge, whose sacred
cedar poles were placed to mark the summer and
solstices and fall and spring
equinoxes. The society began building at this site
about 950 AD, and reached its peak population in 1,250
AD of 20,000–30,000 people, which was not equalled by
any city in the present-day United States until after
1, 800 AD. Cahokia was a major regional chiefdom, with trade and tributary chiefdoms located
in a range of areas from bordering the
Great Lakes to the
Gulf of Mexico. In the sixteenth century, the
earliest Spanish explorers encountered Mississippian
peoples in the interior of present-day North Carolina
and the Southeast.
D. Stannard (Oxford Press,
“Over 100 million killed”
Figures refer to the number of
Indians killed in the time between Columbus arrival in
1492, to the end of the Indian American Wars in the
1890's when less than 250,000 remained.
death toll - 250,000 per
year over 400 years).
There have been
many dubious stereotypes afforded the American Indians, but the
simple truth is that when Europeans first encountered them, they
were still operating (successfully) on a tribal level and the
continent had never been governed as a single nation. Importantly, the
whole concept of 'ownership' of land was alien to them and
remained so till the end of the Indian Wars in the 1890's.
Although agriculture was known and widely practiced, it had not
replaced foraging and hunting which they still depended on and which encouraged a more personal
relationship between people and the land they lived on. This
reverence for nature was lost on the European colonists, so that
when they were first encountered they were considered little
more than 'godless' savages.
It is this
stereotype which has sadly endured until recently, when the worlds
thoughts have turned towards ecological matters such as
sustainable farming, low-impact dwellings and a recognition of
the value of forming a relationship with our environment. Today,
we recognise that these were the very characteristics which
sustained the Indians lifestyle for so long.
The American Revolution:
American Revolution, which was primarily a colonial
dispute, had a huge impact on the American
Indian way of life, sadly ending in the 'Indian Removal
Act' being passed in 1830, something which marked the
end of Indian culture as it had been.
colonisation of the Americas was so effective that when the
revolution began the thirteen colonies had already formed
representative democracies. All of them elected
legislatures, which made laws, laid taxes, levied troops,
provided for grants, and formed a real government of the
people by the people. At the same time, internal struggles
in Europe had inflamed with wars looming between England
against both France and Spain, in addition, the Dutch power
at New Amsterdam had been swept away; the Spaniards had been
pushed back to the South; the Indians and the French were
held at bay on the West and North. In King Philip's War the
New England colonies had combined to raise two thousand
troops and had conquered by concerted action. In the early
French and Indian wars military operations had also been
carried on in concert by the colonies with varying
successes. Thus, the New England colonies and New York had
captured Port Royal in 1690, and had even attempted an
attack on Quebec, and in 1709 and 1712 expeditions were
planned against Canada and Acadia, in which the colonies
whole theory in relation to colonies had become radically
outdated, though it was still in common with other great
powers of the time. This theory was that the colony was
merely a commercial dependency —a place where the mother
country could extend its trade; while by no means was the
colony to be allowed to compete in trade at home or in the
world's markets. To this end had been enacted years before
the so-called Navigation Laws. By these Americans were
forbidden to export their products to other countries than
England, to buy the products of other countries except from
English traders, to manufacture goods which could compete in
the colonies with English importations or to ship goods from
colony to colony except in British vessels; while a high
protective tariff prevented the colonists from selling grain
and other raw products to England.
During the American Revolution, the newly
United States began to compete with the British
for the allegiance of Native American
nations east of the Mississippi River. Most Native Americans
who eventually joined the struggle sided with the
British (, based both on their trading
relationships and hopes that colonial defeat
would result in a halt to further expansion onto Native American land. Many
native communities were divided over which
side to support in the war and others wanted
to remain neutral.
The Indian Confederacy
(The Five 'Six' Nations).
The Five Nations, which
originally comprised of the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga,
Oneida, and Mohawk, were united in confederation c.
1,200 AD. This unification took place under the "Great
Tree of Peace" and each nation gave its pledge not to
war with the other members of the confederation. Around
1720, the Tuscarora nation was admitted into the league
as the sixth member. In total, the confederacy numbered around
15,000 people at the time of Columbus' arrival. They
caused their commonwealth to expand by annexation and
conquest. Had they remained undiscovered by the
Europeans a century longer the Confederacy may have
embraced the whole continent, for the Five Nations had
already extended their conquests from the Great Lakes to
the Gulf of Mexico, and were the terror of the other
tribes east and west.
The five Nations (later
six) were subdivided into tribes, each having a heraldic
insignia, or totem. Through the totemic system they
maintained a tribal union, and exhibited a remarkable
example of an almost pure democracy in government. Each
canton or nation was a distinct republic, independent of
all others in relation to its domestic affairs, but each
was bound to the others of the league by ties of honour
and general interest. Each had an equal voice in the
general council or congress, and possessed a sort of
veto power, which was a guarantee against despotism.
Much of the system was later adopted into the Constitution
existed peacefully under the terms of the treaty for
five hundred years, the coming of the civil-war between
England and her colonies brought problems to the Six
Nation Confederacy beyond their understanding. Having
achieved peace themselves, they could not comprehend why
the English were quarrelling with one another, and had
no desire to be drawn into what they perceived as a
civil war. Early in the revolution, Oneida leaders sent
a message to the governor of New York stating:
unwilling to join either side of such a contest, for
we love you both... ...We Indians cannot find or
recollect from the traditions of our ancestors any
neutral course was not be maintained for long however,
as pressure increased from both England and the 13
States. The English particularly were insistent that the
Confederacy fulfil its obligations as allies of England.
In the end, the civil war aspects of the American
Revolution spilled over into the Six Nations, dividing
them. Unable to
agree on a unified course of action, the Confederacy
split, with not only nation fighting nation, but
individuals within each nation taking different sides.
Following the war (in which most had sided with the
English), and without any unifying system of control
within the Indians, the general atmosphere of hostility
towards Indians was heightened and they became
outcasts in their own lands as settlers continued to
push further and deeper into their territories
completely disregarding the official treaties, perhaps not surprisingly considering the mixed messages
they were getting from their own government.
George Washington, 1779:
Instructions to Major General John Sullivan to attack the
Iroquois people in which Washington stated the following:
"Lay waste all the
settlements around... that the country may not be
merely overrun, but destroyed". In the course of
the carnage and annihilation of Indian people,
Washington also instructed his general to not
"listen to any overture of peace before the
total ruin of their settlements is effected".
George Washington, 1790:
A later proclamation regarding the Indian
"Whereas it hath at this time become peculiarly necessary to warn the
citizens of the United States
against a violation of the
treaties.... I do by these present
require, all officers of the United
States, as well civil as military,
and all other citizens and
inhabitants thereof, to govern
themselves according to the treaties
and act aforesaid, as they will
answer the contrary at their peril".
(Stannard, David E.
AMERICAN HOLOCAUST. New York: Oxford University Press,
1992. pp. 118-121.)
In 1830, the U.S.
Congress passed the 'Indian
Removal Act', authorizing the government to relocate
Americans from their native homelands to established reservations.
This act announced the final chapter of the wholesale
annihilation of the American Indian way of life... but
it came at a cost to both sides as it began the period
known now as the American Indian Wars.
The American Indian
Following the Civil-war, and as the
direct result of written and broken
treaties, warfare, and of
forced assimilation, the Indians were
effectively destroyed by the European
immigration that created the United States.
Scholars believe that among the causes of
the overwhelming population decline of the
American natives were new
infectious diseases carried by
Europeans. Native Americans had no acquired
immunity to such diseases, which had been
chronic in Eurasian populations for
For instance, some estimates indicate fatality rates of 80–90% in Native American
However, American expansion continued,
Native Americans resisted settlers'
encroachment in several regions of the new
nation (and in unorganized territories),
from the Northwest to the Southeast, and
then in the West, as settlers encountered
the tribes of the
Native American nations on the plains in
the west continued armed conflicts with the
United States throughout the 19th century,
through what were called generally "Indian
Battle of Little Bighorn (1876) was one
of the greatest Native American victories.
Defeats included the
Sioux Uprising of 1862,the
Sand Creek Massacre (1864) and
Wounded Knee in 1890.
The Ghost Dance:
ghost dance was a ceremony for the regeneration of the earth, and,
subsequently, the restoration of the earth’s caretakers to their
former life of bliss. Not surprisingly, the religion experienced its
height of popularity during the late 19th century, when devastation
to the buffalo, the land, and its Native American guardians was at
The phenomena swept
the American west in 1888 following a vision by a Paiute holy man
called Wovoka from Nevada. Wovoka, son of the mystic Tavibo, drew on
his father's teachings and his own vision during an eclipse of the
sun. His vision soon became a religion which drew followers from
different, previously unrelated tribes. He claimed that the earth
would soon perish and then come alive again in a pure, aboriginal
state, to be inherited by the Indians, including the dead, for an
eternal existence free from suffering. The dance spread to various
American Indian nations, and as it spread, it took on additional
meanings. While performing the ceremonial dance, it was believed
that you could visit relatives who had left their bodies, sadly, it
was also believed that by wearing 'ghost shirts', the white mans
bullets would become ineffective.
In December 1890
the Ghost Dance was banned on Lakota reservations, and troops
entered the reservation. The resulting massacre is now known as the
Massacre of Wounded Knee, in which at least 150 Indian men, women
and children were slaughtered and numerous others wounded. The man
in charge, Colonel Forsyth was later charged with killing the
innocents, but was also exonerated.
The Wounded Knee Massacre by the 7th Cavalry,
Dec 29th, 1890.
Wounded knee became the
centre of attention again in 1973 when the American Indian Movement
(AIM) protested the United States government's failure to fulfil
treaties with Indian peoples and demanded the reopening of treaty
negotiations. The activists chose the site of the 1890 Wounded Knee
Massacre for its symbolic value. Both sides were armed and shooting
was frequent. An FBI agent was paralyzed from a gunshot wound early
during the occupation, and later died from complications; a Cherokee
and an Oglala Lakota were killed by shootings in April 1973.
Refusal to Accept an Oscar that year was triggered by the events at
Way of Life:
For American Indians, the environment was sacred, possessing
a cosmic significance equal to its material riches. The earth
was sacred — a haven for all forms of life — and it had to be
protected, nourished, and even worshipped.
Much has been written about the American Indian
lifestyle, but the portrayal of Indians as war-painted savages still prevails in
literature and on the screen. Sadly, many of the most
important aspects of Indian lifestyle have been washed over in the
course of providing this more commercially popular (and easier on
the conscience) image of them. However, it is these very aspects of their
lifestyle that are now recognised to be of such value
in the way we perceive our relationship with the world
today. Both the
American Indians’ agricultural methods and medical wisdom
were ignored by the European invaders (while taking care to extract
any useful herbs, plants and foodstuffs in the process, transforming
human nutrition internationally ever since), but it was the integral
association with natures bounty that led to the Indians adopting
such a close spiritual affinity with the earth, something which the
western mind completely failed to comprehend at the time.
greatest loss in the European 'assimilation' of the Indians was this
recognition of the Indian perception of the place of humans in the
greater 'web of life'. Chief Smoholla of the Wanapun tribe
illustrated American Native reverence for the earth, and
highlighted the contrast in European thinking when he
said in 1885:
'You ask me to
ground! Shall I take a knife and
tear my mother’s bosom?
Then when I die she will not
take me to her bosom to rest.
You ask me to dig for stone!
Shall I dig under her skin for
Then when I die I cannot
enter her body to be born again'...
The Nomadic Indians:
some Indian tribes had become sedentary by the time of the
European arrival, many tribes, in particular the plains
Indians, still followed a nomadic lifestyle, following the
seasons and the availability of food. This meant that they
had to pack up the belongings of whole tribe several times a
year and travel until they found more abundant sources. In
particular, they followed the buffalo herds which they
depended on and which also migrated according to the
seasons. Until the arrival of the Spanish with their horses,
this was carried out manually and on foot (apart from using
dogs to pull the travois), making it an important and
integral part of the Indian lifestyle. Since a large surplus
of supplies cannot be kept if one wanders continuously,
nomadic tribes face many challenges and must by necessity
lead very simple, efficient lives in order to survive.
lifestyle is often suggested to have kept the Indian
population in check, and lies at the heart of the Indian
philosophy of 'Wakan Tanka', the great spirit and provider,
as without agriculture or the development of the
infrastructure provided by towns, cities, roads, or
industry, they remained dependant on natures harvest for
their survival. There are still an estimated 30 - 40 million
nomadic peoples in the world today.
Indian Healing and Medicine:
to describe the whole spectrum of American Indian healing
methods in a few words is an almost impossible task.
Put simplistically, there are two main belief systems that
were adopted by the Indians in their healing practices: The
first is seen primarily amongst the Plains groups, where
healing power was a characteristic that individuals obtained
through personal 'shamanic' experiences, such as in
encounters with animal spirit helpers. The well-known
"vision quest" is a manifestation of this principle. The
success of a healer in this context is based in large part,
on personal power obtained through direct encounters with
sacred powers. In contrast, Woodlands groups associate
power, including the ability to heal, with possession of
esoteric knowledge that exists outside the experience of the
differences are illustrated by the fact that animals are the
source of healing power on the Plains, where healers were
often identified on the basis of their animal helpers, for
instance, as an "eagle doctor." By contrast, among Woodland
peoples, the spirits of animals were often considered the
source of illness, with specific plants being created with
the power to cure such animal illnesses, a belief that was
confirmed with the arrival of Europeans who brought with
them a variety of diseases including the introduction of the
ailments of contemporary life, such as diabetes, cancer, and
heart disease since the medicine of their ancestors did not
have to cope with these ailments.
training, Woodland healers were taught how to diagnose
illness and which plants to use to counter them. These
healers also learnt procedures, rituals, and songs that
activated the curing power of plants. Woodland medicine and
the knowledge to use it was not discovered anew by
spiritually powerful practitioners but was considered to
have been provided to tribal ancestors by the Creator in the
ancient past and subsequently handed down across the
characteristic to all tribal and regional American Indian
medicine traditions is that they were founded on an
ecological basis. In Native America, wild plants were of
fundamental importance in medicine, and the species
distribution greatly influenced the content of medicinal
repertoires. This impact was significant for changes wrought
by the forced migration of Indian tribes to unfamiliar
environments which meant that many of the traditionally
known medical plants were unavailable in new homelands. This
process contributed greatly to the demise of the Indians who
were suspicious of the 'White-man's medicine', and therefore
found themselves bereft of any substantial form of medicinal
American horse had been game for the
earliest humans on the continent. They are
believed to have been
hunted to extinction about 7,000 BC, just
after the end of the
last glacial period.
In the 16th century, Spaniards and other
horses to Mexico. During this process horses
invariable escaped and began to breed until their numbers
increased in the wild.
reintroduction of the horse to
north America had a profound impact on
Native American culture of the Great Plains.
It allowed them primarily to extend their nomadic
ranges for hunting. They trained and used horses to ride
and to carry packs or pull travois. The people fully incorporated
the use of horses into their societies and
expanded their territories. They used horses
to carry goods for exchange with neighbouring
tribes, to hunt game, especially
bison, and to conduct wars and horse
was used an essential part of the Indian way of life,
so much so that the Sioux believed that the Buffalo was the physical
manifestation of the wisdom and generosity of the great
spirit 'Wakan Tanka'. It was used in everything from
religious rituals to building theirs tepee. In fact just
about every part of the buffalo was used:
Mandan Tribe used the Skull as a religious altar, the
horns were carved into cups, spoons and ladles. The
teeth were used for tools and decoration and were used
in ceremonial rattles. The Cheyenne used their brains to
treat leather. Bones were made into knives, arrowheads,
sleds, clubs. Hides became Tepee covers, clothes, shoes,
bags and arrow quivers, The Lakota nations used the hair
to stuff pillows, headdresses and to weave rope. The
tongue, heart and liver were eaten right away. Muscle
was cut into strips and preserved as Jerky. The
four-chambered heart was formed into buckets, cups and
pots. Kiowa hunters used sinews as bowstring. Tails were
used as whips and brushes. Fat was used in soap, cooking
oil and candles. Hooves were boiled down for glue. Dung
was dried and burnt as fuel.
million buffalo roamed the Americas at the turn of the
19th century, even though the Indians had successfully hunted them
for millennia. By 1910 only 5,000 survived.
recognition of the inter-dependence of the Indians on
Buffalo led to the following comments being made in
congress: In 1874, Secretary of the Interior Delano
testified before Congress, "The buffalo are disappearing
rapidly, but not faster than I desire. I regard the
destruction of such game as Indians subsist upon as
facilitating the policy of the Government, of destroying
their hunting habits, coercing them on reservations, and
compelling them to begin to adopt the habits of civilization."
(The Military and United States Indian Policy, p.
171) Two years later, reporter John F. Finerty wrote that
the government's Indian allies "killed the animals in
sheer wantonness, and when reproached by the officers said:
‘better kill buffalo than have him feed the Sioux.'"
Although Sheridan added that "If I could learn that every
buffalo in the the northern herd were killed I would be glad"
on a “rick” of
hides in 1878.
skulls to be
The Black Hills.
hills, or 'Paha Sapa' were considered the sacred
heart of the Indian nations. At over 65 million years in
age, they are also the oldest mountainous region in the
nation. In 1923, Doane Robinson, the aging superintendent of
the South Dakota State Historical Society, had a vision of a
massive mountain memorial carved from stone so large it
would put South Dakota on the map. Robinson told all who
would listen of his dream of giant statues of Western
figures such as Chief Red Cloud, Buffalo Bill Cody, Lewis
and Clark, and legendary Sioux warriors marching along South
Dakota's skyline. Robinson spoke to local organizations and
wrote letter upon letter. By the time congress had agreed to
the monument, and under pressure from the sculptor, Glutzon
Borglum, it had been decided that the sculpture should
represent four renowned American Presidents. The work
occurred on and off between 1927 and 1941 and was finished
by his son following his death.
Paha Sapa as it is
(left)... and as it was originally intended (right)
Recently, satellites at the Eros Data Centre, near Sioux
Falls, South Dakota, photographed Paha Sapa from above. When the pictures were
developed, scientists were apparently shocked to learn that the Black Hills were the almost exact
shape of the human heart. You could even see the chambers, veins, and arteries.
This finding gives new meaning to the statements of Lakota
elders, the former guardians of Paha Sapa, who said all
along that Paha Sapa was the heart of all there is.
Words of Wisdom:
'We do not inherit the earth from
our ancestors, we borrow it from our children'.
What is now
essentially a primitive idea of a 'Living Earth' can
still be seen in the narratives and mythologies of
the ancient Indian tribes and cultures. The American Indian, Chief Seattle, in his famous speech of
1854, remarked that:
the rocks, which seem to be dumb as they swelter in
the sun along a silent shore, thrill with memories
of stirring events connected with the lives of my
Other American Indian proverbs and sayings:
"Man's heart away from nature
"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).
"Only to the
white man was nature a wilderness and only to him was the land
'infested' with 'wild' animals and 'savage' people. To us it was
tame, Earth was bountiful and we were surrounded with the
blessings of the Great Mystery"
(Black Elk, Oglala Lakota
does not require many words to speak the truth"
(Chief Joseph, Nez Pierce, 1840-1904).
the earth well, it was not given to you by your parents, it was
loaned to you by your children"
an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the power of
the world always works in circles, and everything tries to be
round. In the old days when we were a strong and happy people,
all our power came to us from the sacred hoop of the nation"
(Chief Black Hawk, 1767-1838).
"One does not
sell the land people walk on"
(Chief Crazy Horse,
people of Indian nations have interpreted the two roads that face
the light-skinned race as the road to technology and the road to
spirituality. We feel that the road to technology
has led modern society to a damaged and seared earth. Could it
be that the road to technology represents a rush to destruction,
and that the road to spirituality represents the slower path
that the traditional native people have travelled and are now
seeking again? The earth is not scorched on this trail. The
grass is still growing there."
(William Commanda, Mamaiwinni 1991)
Great American Indians: Hall of Fame.
Chief Red Cloud, Oglala Sioux.
Chief Wolf Robe, Cheyenne.
Chief Joseph, Nez Perce.
Chief Sitting Bull, Sioux.
Chief Crazy Horse. Sioux.
'When all the trees have been cut down,
when all the animals have been hunted,
When all the waters are polluted and
when the air is unsafe to breathe
Only then will you discover you cannot eat money'.