“If You Want to Know a People, Know their Proverbs.”


Dear Reader:

The other day I just happened to glance up at one of the shelves that surrounds my computer and I started thinking that this was the next project I needed to tackle…clean it out! There were so many small paperbacks packed in there together… that I couldn’t even read the titles…except one.

As I pulled it out I remembered how I got it…I won it at a drawing during a State Social Studies Conference years ago. I  tucked it away in one of my numerous bags I walked around with that day. Eventually I cleaned out the bag and squeezed the small paperback into the shelf by the computer. And there it still sat.

The other day I was happily surprised to find the connection on worries and troubles between the Apostle Matthew and Brer Rabbit and now (as I skimmed through this book) I quickly began seeing the same similarities between Native-American proverbs and our own.

“We are all connected in this world.

This one great truth for me keeps repeating itself over and over to the point that I have no doubt one day my eyes will be opened to see how our universe is connected and it will be a magnificent moment!

(The Duwamish tribe says: “There is no death, only a change of worlds.”) It will be in this ‘other world’ that this connection will be revealed to me.

In the preface, Guy A. Zona defines the term “Proverbs.

Proverbs are time-honored truths which condense the collected wisdom and experience of a people and their culture. These proverbs (collected in the book) are those of a people who love the land and regard it as sacred, who see daily prayer as a duty, and find no need to set apart one day in seven as a holy day, but observe every day as God’s day. 

I have selected ten proverbs from the book; you discover quickly that they sound eerily similar to something you have read from our own Book of Proverbs. God is God to all people and His relationship to them doesn’t alter in the wisdom of His Being.

  1. With all things and in all things we are relatives (Sioux)

2. Sin is not allowed in God’s tepee. (Mohawk)

3. Thoughts are like arrows; once released, they strike their mark. Guard them well or one day you may be your own victim. (Navajo)

4. Be kind to everything that lives. (Omaha)

5. We will be known forever by the tracks we leave. (Dakota)

6. Who serves his fellows is of all the greatest. (Dakota)

7. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies in yourself. (Minguass)

8. All religions are but stepping stones back to God. (Pawnee)

9. It makes no difference as to the name of God, since Love is the real God of all the world. (Apache)

10. Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Walk beside me that we may be as one. (Ute)


Obviously I could go on and on writing down more and more Native-American proverbs because they are so beautiful and touch on love and truth…all the ingredients for life that we as humans share in our spiritual connected-ness here on Earth.

So until tomorrow…We must always remember “We are one in the spirit, we are one in the Lord.”

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh


About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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2 Responses to “If You Want to Know a People, Know their Proverbs.”

  1. Joan Semle says:

    That was wonderful.


    • Becky Dingle says:

      And isn’t it so true…you don’t see a country’s set of laws to understand the culture…one needs to see their “Proverbs” for how they treat each other. And speaking of treating…how did this last surgery (and I pray the last) go for Bob. I want him walking again with no pain…he deserves that and so much more. Love you two!


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