Native American Poetry & Prayers



Black Hawk Productions

You must become the rock the river cannot wash away.

Speak your voice.


I am happy that you have visited and hope that you enjoy this beautiful collection of thoughts, gifts from many friends along the way. Please feel welcome to print this page. The authors are unknown by name, but known in spirit. The 14 poems were given to me as a gift four decades ago. I now give them to you. May you always walk in sunshine and may beauty surround you.

And thank you my Native brothers for teaching me your beautiful ways.

I thank Creator for the ways of creation.

For eyes to see the beauty of creation.

For ears to hear the sounds of creation.

For the heart to understand the ways of Creator

For hands to touch

For words to teach little ones the ways of Creator

I pray for love for all our relations.

- phil gottfredson


I wander through this Earthly walk
just looking for my home.
Sometimes I've thought I'm destined
to be lonely and alone. . .

Which way's the right way?
Which way do I go?
How am I to understand?
How am I to know?

I look upon polluted lands
and I can find no peace.
I walk upon Mother Earth;
I'm searching for release.
I look up to the heavens
but gray skies appear.
I'm listening for the
answers but I have yet to hear.

And I ask, "Great Spirit,
show me the way."
And I ask, "Great Spirit,
teach me today."
And I ask, "Great Spirit,
guide all I say,
that I may share with others
the Light along the way.''

And Great Spirit answers,
"I am everywhere.
I'm the spirit of the rivers
and the spirit of the air.
I'm the spirit of the eagle,
the buffalo, the deer.
I'm in everything you see
and everything you hear.
And when you look into the
eyes of anyone you see
the eyes that are looking back
are all a part of me.
And you can learn from everyone
and everything you see;
for everything that's anything
is another part of me.

The spirit of the stars
is calling me home.
The spirit of the mountain
says I am not alone.
The spirit of the water
is telling me to flow.
The spirit of the spotted owl
is telling me to know.
The spirit of the land
is crying out for peace.
The spirit of the Mother
is calling for release.
The spirit of the sky -
is asking to be clear.
The spirit of the Father
is asking me to hear.

And I ask, "Great Spirit,
show me the way."
And I ask, "Great Spirit,
teach me today."
And I ask, "Great Spirit,
guide all I say
that I may share with others
the Light along the way."

And Great Spirit answers,
"Make this your home.
Take care of the mountains
and you'll never; feel alone.
Clean up the waters
and they will help you flow.
Be a friend to Brother Owl
and he will help you know.
These lands are in danger
and you must work for peace.
Stop raping Mother Earth
and you will find release.

When the skies are not polluted
you will then be clear
to listen to the Father,
to see and feel and hear."

And I thank you, Great Spirit,
for showing me the way.
And I thank you, Great Spirit,
for teaching me today.
And I thank you, Great Spirit,
for guiding all I say
that I may share with others
the Light along the way.
And I will share with others
the Light along the way.



Life offers us the opportunity to become a Spiritual Warrior.
A warrior is one who bravely goes into those dark areas within
themselves to ferret out the Truth of their being.
It takes great courage, stamina and endurance to
become a Spiritual Warrior.

The path is narrow, the terrain rough and rocky.
You will walk alone: through the dark caves,
up those steep climbs and through the dense thick forest.
You will meet your dark side. The faces of fear, deceit, and
sadness all await your arrival

No one can take this journey but you.
There comes a time, in each of our lives,
when we are given the choice to follow this path.
Should we decide to embark on this journey,
we can never turn back.... Our lives are changed forever
On this journey, there are many different places we can
choose to slip into and hide. But the path goes on.
The Spiritual Warrior stays the course, wounded at times,
exhausted and out of energy. Many times, the Warrior will
struggle back to their feet to take only a few steps before
falling again.

Rested, they forge on,
continuing the treacherous path.
The journey continues. The Spiritual Warrior
stays the course. Weakened, but never broken.
One day, the battle, loneliness and desperate fights are over.
The sun breaks through the clouds; the birds begin to sing
their sweet melodies. There is a change in the energy.
A deep change within the self.

The warrior has fought the courageous fight.
The battle of the dark night of the soul is won.
New energy now fills the Warrior.
A new path is now laid before them.
A gentler path filled with the inner-knowing
of one who has personal empowerment.

With their personal battle won, they are filled with joy.
A new awareness that they are one with the Spirit beams
as they go forth to show others the way.
They are not permitted to walk the path for others.
They can only love, guide and be a living example
of the Truth of their being.


Long road winding began in the stars,
spilled onto the mountain tops,
was carried in the snow to the streams,
to the rivers, to the ocean…
It covers Canada, Alaska, America,
Mexico to Guatemala,
and keeps winding around the indigenous.

The Red Road is a circle of people
standing hand in hand,
people in this world, people between
people in the Spirit world.
star people, animal people, stone people,
river people, tree people…
The Sacred Hoop.

To walk the Red Road
is to know sacrifice, suffering.
It is to understand humility.
It is the ability to stand naked before God
in all things for your wrong doings,
for your lack of strength,
for your uncompassionate way,
for your arrogance - because to walk
the Red Road, you always know
you can do better. And you know,
when you do good things,
it is through the Creator, and you are grateful.

To walk the Red Road
is to know you stand on equal ground
with all living things. It is to know that
because you were born human,
it gives you superiority over nothing.
It is to know that every creation carries a Spirit,
and the river knows more than you do,
the mountains know more than you do,
the stone people know more than you do,
the trees know more than you do,
the wind is wiser than you are,
and animal people carry wisdom.
You can learn from every one of them,
because they have something you don’t:
They are void of evil thoughts.
They wish vengeance on no one, they seek Justice.

To Walk the Red Road,
you have God given rights,
you have the right to pray,
you have the right to dance,
you have the right to think,
you have the right to protect,
you have the right to know Mother,
you have the right to dream,
you have the right to vision,
you have the right to teach,
you have the right to learn,
you have a right to grieve,
you have a right to happiness,
you have the right to fix the wrongs,
you have the right to truth,
you have a right to the Spirit World.

To Walk the Red Road
is to know your Ancestors,
to call to them for assistance…
It is to know that there is good medicine,
and there is bad medicine…
It is to know that Evil exists,
but is cowardly as it is often in disguise.
It is to know there are evil spirits
who are in constant watch
for a way to gain strength for themselves
at the expense of you.

To Walk the Red Road,
you have less fear of being wrong,
because you know that life is a journey,
a continuous circle, a sacred hoop.
Mistakes will be made,
and mistakes can be corrected
if you will be humble,
for if you cannot be humble,
you will never know
when you have made a mistake.

If you walk the Red Road,
you know that every sorrow
leads to a better understanding,
every horror cannot be explained,
but can offer growth.

To Walk the Red Road
is to look for beauty in all things.

To Walk the Red Road
is to know you will one day
cross to the Spirit World,
and you will not be afraid…

"Stand still. The trees ahead and the bushes beside you are not lost.

Wherever you are is called here,

and you must treat it as a powerful stranger,

must ask permission to know it and be known."

"The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,

I have made this place around you.

If you leave it, you may come back again saying, 'here.'

No two trees are the same to Raven.

No two branches are the same to Wren.

If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you, you are surely lost.

Stand still.

The forest knows where you are.

You must let it find you.

Here, also, were a great many Indians.
Here where they were many, also, only one knew in a good way about the Mountain Spirits.
It is possible that these are the same ones of whom I spoke a while ago who knew about the Mountain
Spirits, but perhaps no one has spoken of them."

No 1.

What I am I must become

What I see I must try to find

What I hear I must play music to

What I touch I must leave alone

I turn then to all reflections of myself

In trees and sacred things

That nature gives to me

No 2

This was our land.

The land that the mountain needed in order

To raise in majesty.

The land my people needed in order

To roam its secrets in reverence.

This land was the land

Of our great waters

The beating heart of nature flowing through time

That we could not remember.

This was our land.

The land that provided everything good for my people.

The land was always our land

And the sun set upon it

The rain washed it

And the fire was kind in its fury.

It was so for all time.

Then the land was taken from us.

It is your land.

Do you know how to speak to the land, my brother?

Do you listen to what it tells you?

Can you keep its secrets to yourself?>

Sell the land, my brother?

You might as well sell

The sun, the moon, the stars.

No. 3.

I have killed the deer.

I have crushed the grasshopper.

And the plants he feeds upon.

I have taken fish from the water.

And birds from the sky.

In my life I have needed death

So that my life can be.

When I die I must give life

To what has nourished me.

The earth receives my body

And gives it to the plants

And to the caterpillars

To the birds

And to the coyotes

Each in its own turn so that

The circle of life is never broken.

No. 4

My father's face is in the rock on the

mountain; the rock to which I turn

and all sons turn to see the face of all our

fathers on the mountain.

The voice of my father is on the wind

and my voice also when it becomes strong

for only my sons to hear and keep on hearing after I am gone.

To fly higher than the eagle, to run faster

than the deer, to swim as freely as the

fish, to have the cunning of the coyote

and the sleekness of the lion - this is to

possess the spirit that sings in the wind

and cries in the fire, the spirit that shall never leave my home.

No. 5

Let us move evenly together.

Let us stand as one.

Let evil be cast from us.

Let no man cry for himself

Or listen to those without faces.

Let us move evenly together.

Let us walk as tall trees.

Let fear be crushed within us.

Let no man speak for himself

Or give secrets to those without blood.

We shall live together;

We shall walk with you;

We shall find in each new day what hides inside of you,

We shall wait together;

We shall see the day when we go hand in hand.

To the fire in the mountain,

To the water in the sand.

No. 6

The world out there called to my son. And so he went to see if it was a good world. He went because he had to. A long time passed and then my son returned. He said the world out there is like the porcupine that fights with the turtle or like the fire that has fallen into the water.

There is no music either.

I went to learn how the white man lives.

I went to learn if he's free.

I went to learn the white man's ways

But I found them a stranger to me.

Shall I teach you, my brother?

Shall I teach you the Indian way?

Listen, my brother.

My words are those of dead generations

And of generations still to be.

My words I give to you.

The meaning is for you to find.

How should I live?

Among my people a small voice?

In your world silent?

Among my people there is no horizon.

In your world I have seen

Shall I teach you to live and to see?

The universe contained in glass.

You tell us that times are changing.

You say that we do not know

The times in which we live.

We say to you that this time is like any other time

If a man's feet are on the ground

And his heart is in the right place

And he does not try to make

The eagle into an airplane.

What is there for me when I have finished planting?

What is there for me at the end of the row I must hoe?

What is there for me when the harvest is over?

Better corn.

That is all.

No. 7

Pieces of sun on the lake of my spirits;

Pieces of sun on waters of eagle and hawk;

Pieces of sun lie broken on the waters of the lake

From which come the voice to all my singing,

the eyes to all my beauty,

the peace to all my longing.

Above all is the long-living spirit which is the thread

from generation to generation,

as long as the land we live on is everlasting

and our children have a place to lie down.

All as it was, love.

All as it was, beauty.

All as it was, order.

All as it was, in exactly the right place.

This place of the sun trail

The buffalo-grass plain

The hummingbird spring

The grass hat

The frog mesa

And the Big House in the lake where good spirits live.

This place of my people

This place of my grandsons still unborn.

All as it was, peace.

Everything good is to be found here.

Everything good is to be kept here.

No. 8

My brother the star, my mother the earth

my father the sun, my sister the moon,

to my life give beauty, to my

body give strength, to my corn give

goodness, to my house give peace, to

my spirit give truth, to my elders give


No. 9

My horse took me down the life-giving road

Drawing his breath of strong spirit

His breath of power to plow and to pull.

But now he is old

And his breath is of feathers and corn.

I add to his breath

The breath of my own

And pray to his old age of riches.

No. 10

Every morning I walk to the tent of the mountain.

I stand secure.

I am in peace.

The wind comes.

There the breath of the mountain telling me the path to take.

I am gone and am going to the mountain so that

I may see the lightening break the sky in two and rain come to heal it up again.

I come to the place where I have stepped before.

The wind blows my steps away in the dust.

The steps of all who walk here go with the wind and walk with the sky.

Up here is quiet. My feet are quiet.

My hands are quiet.

My eyes are also quiet.

They see a bird flying quiet,

a tree blow- ing quiet,

a moon rising quiet.

Only my soul is not quiet.

My soul does not rest until the corn is planted.

No. 11

There is an eagle in me and a spotted bird hurrying corn to grow

. The eagle flies to the mountains of my dreams,

flies to the corners of my distant hopes.

But the spotted bird stands among the cornstalks telling me to hoe.

My hands are the tools of my soul.

They make the drum,

the bow,

the flute,

and stretch the skin of the deer.

They work the earth and care for the sheep and plant the corn.

They greet my homeland each morning that I awake.

No. 12

Mountain of discontent.

Mountain of talking gods And cold fire.

Mountain of dry bones And silent ashes I cry to your empty womb.

Where is your comfort In this time for staying still?

I lay on the rock in the stream Long enough

so that what was not good in me washed down and away,

gone from my body forever.

No. 13

When trouble comes to me

I have to dance until the dust receives my trouble.

The dust takes my trouble to the mountain.

The mountain grows with the dust of trouble.

The place for my trouble to be.

No. 14

My feet touch earth and dance to the drums which are in my heart as well.

If my feet do not touch earth the dance will not be good.

And the music in my heart will all be still.

Native American Wisdom

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

"Life is not separate from death. It only looks that way." Blackfoot

"We do not inherit the world from our ancestors;

we borrow it from our children.

Duty on us to return it to them in the absolute situation" tribe unknown

"Listening to a liar is like drinking warm water." tribe unknown

"When a fox walks lame, the old rabbit jumps." Oklahoma

"A starving man will eat with the wolf." Oklahoma

"The moon is not shamed by the barking of dogs." Southwest

"Even a small mouse has anger." tribe unknown

"Make my enemy brave and strong, so that if defeated, I will not be ashamed." Plains

"Not every sweet root gives birth to sweet grass." tribe unknown

"The coward shoots with eyes." Oklahoma

"If a man is to do something more than human, he must have more than human powers." tribe unknown

"If you raindance... You will get your teepee wet."

"Tell me, and I'll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I'll understand."

"Tell the truth always even if it is bitter to taste."

"If you chase two rabbits, you will lose them both."

"The Great Spirit gave you two ears and only one mouth, so you can talk half as much as you listen."

"If you take a copy of the Christian Bible and put it out in the wind and the rain, soon the paper on which the words are printed will disintegrate and the words will be gone. Our bible IS the wind."

"Each bird loves to hear himself sing." Arapaho

"All plants are our brothers and sisters. They talk to us and if we listen, we can hear them." Arapaho

"If we wonder often, the gift of knowledge will come" Arapaho

There is a road in the hearts of all of us, hidden and seldom traveled, which leads to an unknown, secret place.

Do not lead me,

For I may not always follow.

Do not follow me,

For I may not always lead.

Lets walk our paths together,

As brothers, friends forever as one.

ah tey wa chee un kink tay

"...and, again I will see You"


Native Wisdom

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

What the people believe is true. Anishnabe

It is better to have less thunder in the mouth and more lightning in the hand. Apache

Each bird loves to hear himself sing. Arapaho

All plants are our brothers and sisters. They talk to us and if we listen, we can hear them. Arapaho

Take only what you need and leave the land as you found it. Arapaho

Before eating, always take time to thank the food. Arapaho

When we show our respect for other living things, they respond with respect for us. Arapaho

If we wonder often, the gift of knowledge will come. Arapaho

Most of us do not look as handsome to others as we do to ourselves. Assiniboine

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... Blackfoot

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

Don't let yesterday use up too much of today. Cherokee

The weakness of the enemy makes our strength. Cherokee

A good soldier is a poor scout. Cheyenne

If a man is as wise as a serpent, he can afford to be as harmless as a dove. Cheyenne

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

Do not judge your neighbor until you walk two moons in his moccasins. Cheyenne

A danger foreseen is half-avoided. Cheyenne Our first teacher is our own heart. Cheyenne

All who have died are equal. Comanche

One rain does not make a crop. Creole

Man's law changes with his understanding of man. Only the laws of the spirit remain always the same. Crow Old age is not as honorable as death, but most people want it. Crow You already possess everything necessary to become great. Crow We will be known forever by the tracks we leave. Dakota

There is no death, only a change of worlds. Duwamish

Day and night cannot dwell together. Duwamish

In age, talk; in childhood, tears. Hopi

One finger cannot lift a pebble. Hopi

All dreams spin out from the same web. Hopi

The one who tells the stories rules the world. Hopi

The rain falls on the just and the unjust. Hopi

Don't be afraid to cry. It will free your mind of sorrowful thoughts. Hopi

Wisdom comes only when you stop looking for it and start living the life the Creator intended for you. Hopi

The rainbow is a sign from Him who is in all things. Hopi

A brave man dies but once, a coward many times. Iowa

Walk lightly in the spring; Mother Earth is pregnant. Kiowa

When a man moves away from nature his heart becomes hard. Lakota

Force, no matter how concealed, begets resistance. Lakota

Many have fallen with the bottle in their hand. Lakota

Everything the power does, it does in a circle. Lakota

A man or woman with many children has many homes. Lakota Sioux

Seek wisdom, not knowledge. Knowledge is of the past, Wisdom is of the future. Lumbee

Everyone who is successful must have dreamed of something. Maricopa

If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies in yourself. Minquass

A good chief gives, he does not take. Mohawk

Remember that your children are not your own, but are lent to you by the Creator. Mohawk

Regard Heaven as your father, Earth as your Mother and all things as your Brothers and Sisters. Native American

The soul would have no rainbow if the eye had no tears. Native American

Coyote is always out there waiting, and Coyote is always hungry. Navajo

There is nothing as eloquent as a rattlesnakes tail. Navajo

You can't wake a person who is pretending to be asleep. Navajo

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

Every animal knows more than you do. Nez Percé

White men have too many chiefs. Nez Percé

To touch the earth is to have harmony with nature. Oglala Sioux

When a fox walks lame, the old rabbit jumps. Oklahoma

A starving man will eat with the wolf. Oklahoma

The coward shoots with shut eyes. Oklahoma

It is easy to be brave from a distance. Omaha

Ask questions from you heart and you will be answered from the heart. Omaha

A hungry stomach makes a short prayer. Paiute

Do not wrong or hate your neighbor for it is not he that you wrong but yourself. Pima

Cherish youth, but trust old age. Pueblo Sharing and giving are the ways of God. Sauk

We are all one child spinning through Mother Sky. Shawnee

Each person is his own judge. Shawnee

Sing your death song and die like a hero going home. Shawnee - Chief Tecumseh

We are made from Mother Earth and we go back to Mother Earth. Shenandoah

It is no longer good enough to cry peace, we must act peace, live peace and live in peace. Shenandoah

There are many good moccasin tracks along the trail of a straight arrow. Sioux

With all things and in all things, we are relatives. Sioux

Poverty is a noose that strangles humility and breeds disrespect for God and man. Sioux

The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives. Sioux

A people without a history is like the wind over buffalo grass. Sioux

The moon is not shamed by the barking of dogs. Southwest

Tell me and I'll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I'll understand. tribe unknown Listening to a liar is like drinking warm water. tribe unknown Listen or your tongue will keep you deaf. tribe unknown

If a man is to do something more than human, he must have more than human powers. tribe unknown

The soul would have no rainbow if the eye had no tears. tribe unknown

Even a small mouse has anger. tribe unknown

Not every sweet root give birth to sweet grass. tribe unknown

Man has responsibility, not power. Tuscarora

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

They are not dead who live in the hearts they leave behind. Tuscarora

The way of the troublemaker is thorny. Umpqua God gives us each a song. Timpanogos

A man must make his own arrows. Winnebago After dark all cats are leopards. Zuni

When you die, you will be spoken of as those in the sky, like the stars. Yurok

Take only memories, leave nothing but footprints. Chief Seattle

When the Earth is sick, the animals will begin to disappear, when that happens, The Warriors of the Rainbow will come to save them. Chief Seattle

All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life. He is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. Chief Seattle

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view and demand that they respect yours. Chief Tecumseh

Peace comes within the souls of men, when they realize their oneness with the Universe, when they realize it is really everywhere... it is within each one of us. Black Elk, Lakota Medicine Man

A very great vision is needed, and the man who has it must follow it as the eagle seeks the deepest blue of the sky. Chief Crazy Horse Hoka Hey It is a good time to die. Chief Crazy Horse

My elders have told me that these teachings are important to humanity. And that the more people understand them, the better things will get. Although the essence of tradition belief and spirit is the same the world over; they say, that if you are able to search out your own roots, it is best if we can preserve our own traditions. We need them all. All the Earth's indigenous ways. Furthermore, they were created to work in the land of their birth.

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