The following is a compilation of comments from a survey given to 37 Native American students representing 14 different tribes on November 15, 1998 in Phoenix, Arizona.

1.  A person who knows his/her “true identity” and who understands their relationship to Creator, their Tribe and all living things.   

2.  A person dedicated to the welfare of their people.

3.  A person of courage, of the warrior-spirit.

4.  A person who considers and takes care of the weak and helpless,  the young and the elderly.

5.  A person who does not lie or boast. One who can be relied upon. One who has a well-developed and strong character. 

6.  A person who controls their own desires so as to maintain simplicity of life and respect for creation.

7.  A person who has taken a “new name,” one who has a true relationship with his Creator.

8.  A person who is “under control.”  One who does not do what drugs, alcohol, anger, hate or greed may influence him/her to do.

9.  A person who desires to help others and to share with others. One who does not lose the trust of those who depend upon him or her.

10. A person who is non-aggressive and non-exploitative. One who does not seek to verbally or physically dominate any other creature. A person whose power is reserved for the benefit of others.  One who does not exploit their power for selfish reasons.

11. A person who maintains dignity and whose expressions of joy, sorrow, enthusiasm, love, etc, are spontaneous—never feigned or forced.

12. One who thinks much and speaks little, for words have power, once released, to do harm or good. Words can return back on you if spoken against others. Words can heal and bless others – and the one who has spoken them.

13. A person who develops skills and knowledge to maximum capacity for the benefit of his/her people and to enhance the beauty,  balance and harmony of the world.

14. Indian-ness means respect for the individual and mutual respect for one another.

15. Indian-ness means developing personal qualities that inspire respect – embodying values that are lived-out in daily life.

16. Being “Indian” means to live an uncomplicated life; to strive for balance and harmony, to be self-sufficient, have a determination to stay free, have the will to fight to survive –  to stay free.

17. Indian-ness means knowing that Creator gave blood to the earth in the form of rivers and streams. That He gave bones to the earth in the form of mountains. That He gave breath to the earth in the form of wind. And to know that earth is Mother for we came forth from her dust.

18. Being Indian means to be suspicious of a foreign government who came to our shores and sought to exterminate, assimilate, acculturate and to dominate the original aboriginal inhabitants of this land.


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