Native American Virtues Humility

By Kat Glasgow Shiver

Why Blackfeet Never Kill Mice

“That is not our way, to set yourself apart and talk about who you are
and what you’ve done. You let your life speak for you. With the Mohawk
people, wisdom is how you live and how you interpret what your mother
and father, what your grandmothers and grandfathers have told you about
this world – and then how you interpret that into the fact of living every day.”
— Tom Porter, MOHAWK

Have you ever heard the saying, “actions speak louder than words”?

How we live will resonate with others. It is our actions, not our words, that will leave the greatest impression on people. It is easy to see people who talk the talk, but do not walk the walk.

Marriam Webster defines humility as: the quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people : the quality or state of being humble.

In the Bible, humility means being affably respectful towards others. It is the same in Native tradition. It is the opposite of aggressiveness, arrogance, boastfulness, and vanity.

(“Proverbs 27:2 Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips,” n.d.)

(“Proverbs 11:3 The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity,” n.d.)

(“Matthew 5: 14-16 14 You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they set it on a lampstand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. ,” n.d.)

Instead of saying “Me”, humility affords us an opportunity to give credit where credit is due, and to put others ahead of our own selfish interests.

Humility is represented by the wolf. The wolf’s life is to work and live for its pack. To be outcast from the pack is the ultimate shame. The wolf represents humility in Native American spirituality.

HUMILITY is to know yourself as a sacred part of the creation.

Live life selflessly and not selfishly. Every thing living is interconnected. (jagenagenan) Respect your place among the people, and the web of life. Acknowledge and praise the ideas and accomplishments of all. Do not grow bigger than the rest, and do not become self-important. Find balance within yourself, and with all living things.

With humility comes wisdom.

(“Proverbs 11:1-3 1 A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, But a just weight is His delight. 2 When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom. 3 The integrity of the upright will guide them, But the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them. NASB,” n.d.)

Ahaw Mamogosnan.

Migwetch jak she gego ga gishtoyen. Today please help me be humble. Give me the ability to listen and hear the things you want me to know. Help me to not do things to seek attention, and help me to not be boastful or proud. Let me learn from my Elders, and let me teach by showing in the way that I live.

Igwien Iw