Travel Tips

30 Proverbs That Reveal The Wisdom Of Indigenous Peoples

Proverbs are the compendium of human wisdom, a form of oral literature through which the diverse cultures of the world manage to express their experiential existences in short and vibrant sayings. These spread from generation to generation, transcending peoples and languages.

The immense intelligence and knowledge of indigenous tribes is reflected in their proverbs, showing us their relationship with the natural, social and spiritual environment, and teaching us their ways of life and values.

Tribal storyteller

Tribal storyteller

Discover these 30 proverbs that have great cultural value, many of which are universal and could be applied to everyday life across the world…

  1. “When we show our respect for other living things, they respond with respect for us”. Arapahoe proverb
  2. “Those who lose dreaming are lost”. Australian Aboriginal proverb
  3. “Take only what you need and leave the land as you found it”. Arapahoe proverb
  4. “We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home”. Australian Aboriginal proverb
  5. “All plants are our brothers and sisters. They talk to us and if we listen, we can hear them”. Arapahoe proverb
  6. “Our first teacher is our own heart”. Cheyenne proverb
  7. “The land owns us”. Australian Aboriginal proverb
  8. "Seek wisdom, not knowledge. Knowledge is of the past, Wisdom is of the future”. Lumbee proverb
  9. “If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies in yourself”. Minquass proverb
  10. “Life is not separate from death. It only looks that way”. Blackfoot proverb
  11. “If you wish your merit to be known, acknowledge that of other people”. Eskimo proverb
  12. “It is less of a problem to be poor, than to be dishonest”. Ojibwe proverb
  13. “Do not steal, do not lie, and don’t be lazy”. Inca proverb
  14. “The one who tells the stories rules the world”. Hopi proverb
  15. “He who is unable to dance says that the yard is stony”. Masai proverb
  16. “A man or woman with many children has many homes”. Lakota proverb
  17. “Do not judge your neighbor until you walk two moons in his moccasins”. Cheyenne proverb
  18. “May you have warmth in your igloo, oil in your lamp, and peace in your heart”. Eskimo proverb
  19. “The land is a mother that never dies”. Maori proverb
  20. “Beware of the man who says he can see the truth of your life clearly. His eyes cannot see the heart of your heart for all the light of the Sun”. Inca proverb
  21. “Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it”. Ewe proverb
  22. “Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I may not remember, involve me and I’ll understand”. Native American proverb
  23. “May all happen to you as the happiness of a dream, and so it will”. Mapuche proverb
  24. “A brave man dies only once, a coward dies many times”. Iowa Proverb
  25. “Many hands make work light; Many ideas open the way”. Hmong proverb
  26. “Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you”. Maori proverb
  27. “When they cut down a tree in the jungle, a star falls from the sky”. Lacandon proverb
  28. “When the last tree has been cut down, the last river has been polluted and the last fish has been caught -only then do you realize that money can't buy everything”. Native American proverb
  29. “A good boss gives, he does not take”. Mohawk proverb
  30. “Thoughts are like arrows: Once released, they hit their target. Keep them safe, or one day you can be your own victim”. Navajo proverb


Cover photo Elderly men talking