Aha Stories and Poems with Native American Themes:

Sitting Bull, Sitting Duck

Be a Light Unto Yourself (sequel to Sitting Bull, Sitting Duck)

Walk Through Walls

One Tribe, One Spirit, Many Reflections







A Native American Prayer

O' Great Spirit,
Who's voice I hear in the winds, and whose breath gives life, life to all the world, hear me!
I am small and weak, I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have made and my ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand the things you have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons you have hidden in every rock and leaf.
I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother, but to fight my greatest enemy which is myself.
Make me always ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes.
So, when life fades as the falling sunset, my spirit may come to you without shame.
Author Unknown.....



Black Elk's Great Vision

"Then I was standing on the highest mountain of them all,

and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world.

And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw;  

for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit,

and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being.

And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops

that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight,

and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter

all the children of one mother and one father.

And I saw that it was holy."


Black Elk, 1931 



    An American Indian elder described his own inner struggles this way: "Inside of me there two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time." When asked which dog wins, he reflected for a moment and replied, "The one I feed the most."




  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



We will be known by the tracks we leave behind -- Dakota Proverb


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



   Man has responsibility, not power.




In the beginning of all things,
wisdom and knowledge were with the animals,
for Tirawa, the One Above, did not speak
directly to man. He sent certain animals
to tell men that he showed himself
through the beast, and that from them,
and from the stars and the sun and moon
should man learn.. all things tell of
Tirawa. All things in the world are two.
In our minds we are two, good and evil.
With our eyes we see two things, things
that are fair and things that are ugly....
We have the right hand that strikes and
makes for evil, and we have the left
hand full of kindness, near the heart.
One foot may lead us to an evil way,
the other foot may lead us to a good.
So are all things two, all two.
Eagle Chief(Letakos-Lesa) Pawnee



Earth Prayer

"Grandfather, Great Spirit, once more behold me on earth and lean to hear my feeble voice. You lived first, and you are older than all need, older than all prayer. All things belong to you -- the two-legged, the four-legged, the wings of the air, and all green things that live.

"You have set the powers of the four quarters of the earth to cross each other. You have made me cross the good road and road of difficulties, and where they cross, the place is holy. Day in, day out, forevermore, you are the life of things."

Hey! Lean to hear my feeble voice.
At the center of the sacred hoop
You have said that I should make the tree to bloom.

With tears running, O Great Spirit, my Grandfather,
With running eyes I must say
The tree has never bloomed

Here I stand, and the tree is withered.
Again, I recall the great vision you gave me.

It may be that some little root of the sacred tree still lives.
Nourish it then
That it may leaf
And bloom
And fill with singing birds!

Hear me, that the people may once again
Find the good road
And the shielding tree.




Grandfather, Great Spirit, fill us with light. Teach us to walk the soft earth as relatives to all that live. 




In beauty may I walk;
With beauty before me, may I walk;
With beauty above me, may I walk;
With beauty below me, may I walk;
With beauty all around me, may I walk;
In beauty, may my walk be finished;
In beauty, may my walk be finished.

Native Wisdom

"Only After the last tree has been cut down,
Only after the last river has been poisoned,
Only after the last fish has been caught,
Only then will you find that
money cannot be eaten."


Apache Wedding Prayer

Now you will feel no rain,
For each of you will be shelter to the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
For each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there is no more loneliness,
For each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two bodies,
But there is only one life before you.
Go now to your dwelling place
To enter into the days of your togetherness
And may your days be good and long upon the




May the warm winds of heaven blow softly on this house and the Great Spirit bless all who enter here.
Oh Great spirit, grant that I may never find fault with my neighbor until I have walked the trail of life in his moccasins.



Sign Language 

Form a circle, do what I do and say what I say

use the scout sign on the forehead, and as the words are spoken, fingers make small circles upward as though smoke is going into the sky.
make sign for the sun - index finger and thumb form circle while arm is being held out to the right.
bring hand over to heart.
both hands down along sides, with palms facing forward.
bring hands up from sides with palms up.
bring palms together and then apart as if measuring something.




Tipi Etiquette

* If the door is open, a friend may enter the tipi directly. But if it is closed, he should announce his presence and wait for the owner to invite him to come in.
* A male enters to the right and waits for the host to invite him to sit to the left of the owner at the rear. Be hospitable.
* Always assume your guest is tired, cold, and hungry.
* Always give your guest the place of honor in the lodge and at the feast, and serve him in reasonable ways.
* Invited guests are expected to bring their own bowls and spoons.
* Never sit while your guests stand.
* Woman never sit cross-legged like men. They can sit on their heels or with their legs to one side.
* If your guests refuses certain foods, say nothing. He may be under vow.
* Protect your guest as one of the family.
* Do not trouble your guest with many questions about himself. He will tell you what he wants to know.
* In another man’s lodge, follow his customs-not your own.
* Never worry your host with your troubles.
* Always repay calls of courtesy. Do not delay.
* Give your host a little present upon leaving. Little presents are little courtesies and never offend.
* Say "thank you" for every gift, however small.
* Compliment, even if you strain the facts to do so.
* Never walk between persons talking.
* Never interrupt persons talking.
* Always give place to your seniors in entering or leaving the lodge, or anywhere.
* Never sit while your seniors stand.
* Never force your conversations on anyone.
* Speak softly, especially before your elders, or in the presence of strangers.
* Never come between anyone and the fire.
* Do not stare at strangers. Drop your eyes if they stare hard at you; above all for women.
* The woman of the lodge are the keepers of the fire, but the men should help with the heavier sticks.
* Be kind
* Show respect to all men and women, but grovel to none.
* Let silence be your motto, until duty bids you to speak.
* Thank the Great Spirit for every meal.




I will draw thorns from your feet-
We will walk the white path of life together-
like a brother of my own blood-
I will love you-
I will wipe tears from your eyes-
I will put your aching heart to rest




Grand father---Great Spirit-
All over the world,
the faces of the people are alike-
with tenderness, they-
have come-
out out of the ground-
Look upon your children-
that they may face the winds-
and walk the good road-
to the days of quiet-
Grand father---Great Spirit-
fill us with the light-
give us the strength-
to understand-
and the eyes to see-
teach us to walk the soft earth-
as relatives-
to all that live.



Native American Proverbs From Different Indian Cultures


It is less of a problem to be poor, than to be dishonest. 

Those who have one foot in the canoe and one foot in the boat are
going to fall into the river. 

We will be known forever by the tracks we leave. 

Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark. 

It is easy to be brave from a distance. 

A rocky vineyard does not need a prayer, but a pick ax.  

Those that lie down with dogs, get up with fleas.  

Each person is his own judge. 

"Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."



Ancient Indian Proverb Native American Quotes


Time discovered truth. 


"When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced.
 Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice."

Cherokee Expression

Trouble no more about their religion;
respect others in their view, 
and demand that they respect yours.

Chief Tecumseh


"One does not sell the land people walk on." ... 

Crazy Horse, Sept. 23, 1875


Why not teach school children more of the wholesome proverbs and legends of our people?  That we killed game only for food, not for fun... Tell your children of the friendly acts of the Indians to the white people who first settled here.  Tell them of our leaders and heroes and their deeds... Put in your history books the Indian's part in the World War. Tell how the Indian fought for a country of which he was not a citizen, for a flag to which he had no claim, and for a people who treated him unjustly.  We ask this, Chief, to keep sacred the memory of our people. 

     Grand Council Fire of American Indians to the Mayor of Chicago, 1927




.  . everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian theory of existence. 

Mourning Dove (Christine Quintasket), Salish



There is no death. Only a change of worlds. 

Chief Seattle 



"It ended...
His body changed to light,
A star that burns forever in the sky."

Aztec-American Indian


Conversation was never begun at once, nor in a hurried manner. No one was quick with a question, no matter how important, and no one was pressed for an answer. A pause giving time for thought was the truly courteous way of beginning and conducting a conversation. Silence was meaningful with the Lakota, and his granting a space of silence to the speech-maker and his own moment of silence before talking was done in the practice of true politeness and regard for the rule that "thought comes before speech." 

Luther Standing Bear, Oglala Sioux Chief



It is the general belief of the Indians that after a man dies his spirit is somewhere on the earth or in the sky, we do not know exactly where, but we are sure that his spirit still lives. . . . So it is with Wakantanka. We believe that he is everywhere, yet he is to us as the spirits of our friends, whose voices we can not hear. 

 Chased-by-Bears, Santee-Yanktonai Sioux


A warrior who had more than he needed would make a feast. He went around and invited the old and needy. . . The man who could thank the food—some worthy old medicine man or warrior—said, ". . . . look to the old, they are worthy of old age; they have seen their days and proven themselves. With the help of the Great Spirit, they have attained a ripe old age. At this age the old can predict or give knowledge or wisdom, whatever it is; it is so. At the end is a cane. You and your family shall get to where the cane is." 

 Black Elk, Oglala Sioux holy man




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