Before our white brothers came to civilize us we had no jails. Therefore we had no criminals. You can’t have criminals without a jail. We had no locks or keys, and so we had no thieves. If a man was so poor that he had no horse, tipi or blanket, someone gave him these things. We were too uncivilized to set much value on personal belongings. We wanted to have things only in order to give them away. We had no money, and therefore a man’s worth couldn’t be measured by it. We had no written law, no attorney or politicians, therefore we couldn’t cheat. We were in a really bad way before the white man came, and I don’t know how we managed to get along without the basic things which, we are told, are absolutely necessary to make a civilized society.
— Lakota Sage Lame Deer (from John Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions)
You can’t get rich if you treat your relatives right.
You can’t get rich without cheating people.
Cheating people is the wrong way.
That way gets you into trouble.
Men should be honest to get along.
—Anonymous Navajo Leader (p. 32, The Book of the Navajo, RF Locke, 2001)
Only when the last tree has died,
the last river has been poisoned
and the last fish has been caught,
will we realize that we can’t eat money.
— Cree proverb