Love one another and do not strive for another's undoing. Even as you desire good treatment, so render it.
Handsome Lake (Seneca), after his vision of three angels in ancient Iroquois regalia, 1799, quoted in The Code of Handsome Lake, the Seneca Prophet by Arthur C. Parker, 1913
Tenskwatawa (The Prophet) Our Creator put us on this wide, rich land, and told us we were free to go where the game was, where the soil was good for planting. That was our state of true happiness. We did not have to beg for anything. Our Creator had taught us how to find and make everything we needed, from trees and plants and animals and stone. We lived in bark, and we wore only the skins of animals. Our Creator taught us how to use fire, in living, and in sacred ceremonies. She taught us how to heal with barks and roots, and how to make sweet foods with berries and fruits, with papaws and the water of the maple tree. Our Creator gave us tobacco, and said, Send your prayers up to me on its fragrant smoke. Our Creator taught us how to enjoy loving our mates, and gave us laws to live by, so that we would not bother each other, but help each other. Our Creator sang to us in the wind and the running water, in the bird songs, in children's laughter, and taught us music. And we listened, and our stomachs were never dirty and never troubled us.
Thus were we created. Thus we lived for a long time, proud and happy. We had never eaten pig meat, nor tasted the poison called whiskey, nor worn wool from sheep, nor struck fire or dug earth with steel, nor cooked in iron, nor hunted and fought with loud guns, nor ever had diseases which soured our blood or rotted our organs. We were pure, so we were strong and happy.
But, beyond the Great Sunrise Water, there lived a people who had iron, and those dirty and unnatural things, who seethed with diseases, who fought to death over the names of their gods! They had so crowded and befouled their own island that they fled from it, because excrement and carrion were up to their knees. They came to our island. Our Singers had warned us that a pale people would come across the Great Water and try to destroy us, but we forgot. We did not know they were evil, so we welcomed them and fed them. We taught them much of what Our Grandmother had taught us, how to hunt, grow corn and tobacco, find good things in the forest. They saw how much room we had, and wanted it. They brought iron and pigs and wool and rum and disease. They came farther and drove us over the mountains. Then when they had filled up and dirtied our old lands by the sea, they looked over the mountains and saw this Middle Ground, and we are old enough to remember when they started rushing into it. We remember our villages on fire every year and the crops slashed every fall and the children hungry every winter. All this you know.
Tenskwatawa (Shawnee), message to his people, c. 1805
Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and Demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and bow to none.
Tecumseh (Shawnee), quoted in Shawnee History by Lee Sulzman
In 1832 George Catlin, the painter, went West and spent eight years with the unchanged Indians of the Plains. He lived with them and became conversant with their lives. He has left one of the fullest and best records we have of the Redman. From his books I quote repeatedly. Concerning the Indian's religion, he says:
The North American Indian is everywhere, in his native state, a highly moral and religious being, endowed by his Maker with an intuitive knowledge of some great Author of his being, and the Universe, in dread of whose displeasure he constantly lives, with the apprehension before him of a future state, where he expects to be rewarded or punished according to the merits he has gained or forfeited in this world.
Morality and virtue I venture to say the civilized world need not undertake to teach them.
I never saw any other people of any color who spend so much of their lives in humbling themselves before and worshipping the Great Spirit. (Catlin's "N. A. Indian," Vol. II., p. 243.)
We have been told of late years that there is no evidence that any tribe of Indians ever believed in one overruling power; yet, in the early part of the seventeenth century, Jesuits and Puritans alike testified that tribes which they had met, believed in a god, and it is certain that, at the present time, many tribes worship a Supreme Being who is the Ruler of the Universe. (Grinnell's Story of the Indian, 1902, p. 214.)
Love and adore the Good Spirit who made us all; who supplies our hunting-grounds, and keeps us alive. (Teachings of Tshut-che-nau, Chief of the Kansas. J. D. Hunter's Captivity Among the American Indians, 1798-1816, p. 21).
Ernest Thompson Seton, "Chapter II: The Spartans of the West," The Book of Woodcraft, 1912
I love a people that have always made me welcome to the very best that they had.
I love a people who are honest without laws, who have no jails and no poorhouses.
I love a people who keep the commandments without ever having read or heard them preached from the pulpit.
I love a people who never swear or take the name of God in vain.
I love a people "who love their neighbors as they love themselves."
I love a people who worship God without a Bible, for I believe that God loves them also.
I love a people whose religion is all the same, and who are free from religious animosities.
I love a people who have never raised a hand against me, or stolen my property, when there was no law to punish either.
I love and don't fear mankind where God has made and left them, for they are his children.
I love the people who have never fought a battle with the white man, except on their own ground.
I love a people who live and keep what is their own without lock and keys.
I love a people who do the best they can.
And oh how I love a people who don't live for the love of money.
We have been guilty of only one sin we have had possessions that the white man coveted.
Eagle Wing (Sioux), Ploughed Under, the Story of an Indian Chief Told by Himself, 1881
We are all poor because we are all honest.
Red Dog (Oglala Sioux), quoted in Native American Wisdom, late 19th century
You must not hurt anybody or do harm to anyone. You must not fight. Do right always. It will give you satisfaction in life. Wovoka (Pauite), quoted by James Mooney in "The Ghost-dance Religion and the Sioux Outbreak of 1890," 14th Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, Part 2, 1896
I went up to heaven and saw God and all the people who had died a long time ago. God told me to come back and tell my people they must be good and love one another, and not fight, or steal, or lie. Wovoka (Paiute), c. 1890
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