You may, or may not, be surprised (depends on well you know me) that I’ve been reading a book titled “The Book of Random Oddities” by Publications International, Ltd. In it is a page labeled Worldly Wisdom: Native American Proverbs. They are awesome.
Native Americans were in this country for hundreds of years before “the white man” spread across the continent. The classic TV images that we are accustomed to seeing regarding the “Indians” don’t portray them as particularly “knowledgeable” or wise. But the Native Americans had developed sophisticated languages, cultures, art, and knowledge about the land and the earth before we arrived.
These are just a few of the many tribes and their worldly wisdom in proverbs they shared.
If we wonder often, the gift of knowledge will come. (Arapaho)
Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today. (Cherokee)
All who have died are equal. (Comanche)
Listen or your tongue will keep you deaf. (Cree)
We will be known forever for the tracks we leave. (Dakota)
Don’t be afraid to cry. It will free your mind of sorrowful thoughts. (Hopi)
The greatest strength is gentleness. (Iroquois)
A good chief gives; he does not take. (Mohawk)
Every animal knows more than you do. (Nez Perce)
Cherish youth, but trust old age. (Pueblo)
With all things and in all things, we are relatives. (Sioux)
It makes me sad that as my race spread across this continent we did not think more like the Cree and hence remained rather deaf to the natives. And, I wish that the world would think more like the Sioux and learn to get along with our ‘relatives’ everywhere. Perhaps I just need a good cry like the Hopi suggest.
And in conclusion, I’m glad we will be known forever for the tracks we leave, most probably in our senior moments.
Ken Neher is executive director at Garden Terrace Senior Living in Wenatchee.