Quotes about the Indigenous Peoples of Arizona

Welcome to my page of quotations about the true Arizona natives, who were here long before any of us transplants and long before Arizona was a territory or a state — from the prehistoric cultures of the Ancestral Puebloans, Hohokam, Mogollon, Patayan (Hakataya), and Sinagua, to the contemporary Diné (Navajo), Hopi, Hualapai, Havasupai, Southern Paiute, Nuwu (Chemehuevi), Apache, Yavapai, Tohono O’odham (Papago), Akimel O’odham (Pima), Maricopa, Mohave, Yaqui, Quechan, and Cocopah.  —ღ Terri

The land of the Navajos is a big land. It is a land where the horizon dances seductively in the distance, a beckoning sorceress tempting with promises unfilled. The land of the Navajos is a big land, big enough for the wind to romp in and to get lost in, big enough for the sun to assume its regal role as a pompous dictator, which it does in royal and imperious splendor. It is a color-drenched, sun-drenched land whose intense coloration can be hard on the eyes but pleasing to the soul. It is a land worthy of the people who live in it — the Navajos as colorful as their land… ~Raymond Carlson, “Delano: Beauty in Navajoland,” Arizona Highways, August 1968

Could I but speak your tongue
      I would sing of pastel colored cliffs
      Where, under sapphire skies,
      The raincloud gently drifts.
      Of wondrous sunlit valleys wide,
      Timeless home of your clan — your tribe.
Could I but speak your tongue
      I would sing a prayer that in future days
      You would ever honor your ancient ways,
      And that the Gods of health and peace
      In their boundless blessings, never cease,
      To be generous to these children here below,
      These children of the Desert.
~C. J. Colby, “Song to the Indian,” Arizona Highways, August 1973

You are between vast walls, that rise a quarter of a mile or less apart, made of brilliant red sandstone, the walls reaching up to the very stars… A thousand, two thousand, feet high, the walls surely must be. Wonderful. Awe-inspiring. Majestic. You see a Navaho camp-fire and dancers; the song you hear is a death chant, sung to aid the spirit on its long journey to the other world beyond. You are in the Canyon de Chelly, the home of the ancient Cliff-Dwellers and also of the present-day Navahos. ~George Wharton James, Arizona, the Wonderland, 1917

As of 2007, some 21 federally recognized Native American tribes and nations are located either wholly or primarily within Arizona’s boundaries. Their population within the state is nearly 255,900 residents, comprising about five percent of the state’s overall population and making Arizona the third-largest state for Native Americans in the nation. About 63% of those residents live in reservations, which cover about 27% of Arizona’s land area. ~Paul & Kathleen Nickens, Postcard History Series: Native Americans of Arizona, 2007

Hello! I hope you are as interested in Indian heritage as I am! Like most kids, I grew up thinking of Indians as the other half of Cowboys. Today, of course, we are getting a much clearer and more accurate picture of what the first peoples on our land were all about. These facts are much more fascinating than anything Hollywood can make up… I am 1/16 Cherokee. This is something I am very proud of and happy about. It was many years before I learned to appreciate the significance of my native heritage. One of the most interesting things I’ve learned is how fascinating all of the Indian tribes are — in the past, present, and future! All native peoples were part of an ever-changing network of time, ideas, power and luck — good and bad. This is certainly a history that is not dead but continues to change — often right outside our own back doors! — all the time. ~Carole Marsh, She-Who-Writes, “Word from the Author,” Arizona Native Americans: A Kid’s Look at Our State’s Chiefs, Tribes, Reservations, Powwows, Lore, and More from the Past and the Present, 2004

Can we give a true picture by describing a typical, or average, Arizonan? No, for there is no such person… When one speaks of an Arizonan, does he mean one of the 46,000 Indians whose ancestors were here first? Does he mean one of the 145,000 Mexicans, who may be descended from seventeenth century invaders or have crossed the international line only yesterday as an immigrant? Does he mean a grizzled pioneer… or those who have come in the last decade from every other state in the Union and from almost every country on the face of the earth? ~Arizona: A State Guide, compiled by Workers of the Writers’ Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Arizona, 1940

You know you’re an Arizona native when you were here before Marcos de Niza, Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, Eusebio Kino, Tubac, Brigham Young, James Gadsden, Jefferson Davis, Jack Swilling, and Phoenix! ~Terri Guillemets, 2004  [My unofficial addendum to Don Dedera’s 1993 (and otherwise hilarious) book You Know You’re an Arizona Native, When…  Robert Orben bonus quote: “Illegal aliens have always been a problem in the United States. Ask any Indian.” –tg]

Arizona Quotations: Aboriginal Peoples
Original post date: 2016 Apr 25
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