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Native American Teachings Of How To Respect Others

Updated on July 24, 2013

What Is Respect And How Do We Show Respect

Native American young people are taught by our Elders to respect Mother Earth, our families, our friends, our communities and all our relations. As I was growing up there were definite things that were appropriate ways to show respect and there were definite things that you did not do. What many people call common courtesy or etiquette.

In the recent past there has been

Choctaw Ball Players

Photo in Public Domain .

a shift from emphasis on family and community to emphasis for what is best for the individual needs. As a result the individuals pleasure or gain becomes so important that respect for other individuals is set aside. This lenses is meant to be food for thought to help us check up on what we are doing and to remind us to teach our children and grandchildren about respect.

Who I Speak For

In no way do I want to imply that I am speaking for all Native Americans or for a certain tribe. This is what I was taught by my Choctaw Grandparents and Great Grandparents. Many of things I talk about are also from the teachings of Elders from other nations that I have met through my lifetime. What I learned I teach.

Book About the Choctaw

Here is a very good book that has become a collectors item and has been going up in the last few years. It was written my a man who walked among the Choctaw about the time of the Trail Of Tears.

History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw and Natchez Indians
History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw and Natchez Indians

This was written by someone who lived among the Choctaw in the 1800's. It is a good account of what life was like and who the Choctaw are.

Native American Elders Teach Us Respect
Native American Elders Teach Us Respect

What Happened To Respecting All People

As we travel around to elementary schools giving presentations I see some schools and teachers struggling to continue to teach respect of others and their property so there is still hope. Yet in other schools and teachers seem to have given up the battle and struggle to maintain order in their own schools.

We still pass on respect for others in our community

Photo In Public Domain.

just as families in many cultures do. But more and more as I go into different public places I see an increasing lack of respect among younger generations.

Where has the respect gone

Teach How To Respect Others
Teach How To Respect Others

Do you think people are as respectful of each other as they used to be

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Native American Teachings on Respect - Good Books To Learn More

Learning Respect From Our Elders
Learning Respect From Our Elders

They cannot learn respect unless someone who cares teaches them.

In our Native American families it is the Elders who teach the younger generations right ways of living. It is also important to those of us who are Elders to pass on what we have learned. With that in mind I decided to write this lens on respect as I was taught it. Hopefully it will help you teach others respect or give you food for thought about respect with in our societies.

I know that it is very important that I mention it is not only Native Americans who teach respect within their culture. I have run into many, many cultures and families that still do teach respect. I am writing this lenses not from a place of being better then any other culture but a place of sharing what we were taught hoping that it will help someone else. Ome.

You Can Teach Someone Respect No Matter What Their Age

This movie is an interesting journey from having a lack of respect to learning respect. It is one of my favorite moves and worth watching.

Eagle Wants Respect Or Else
Eagle Wants Respect Or Else

Ways To Show Respect

Here is a list of ways that I was taught how to show respect.

It is by no stretch of the imagination anywhere a complete list but is a place to start.

Dictionary meaning of respect: is to consider worthy of high regard :

1.) Most important is not interfering with others right to believe like they choose to believe.

Eagle by nick rebollozo.

2. Never intrude on someone who is taking a quiet moment or hasn't indicated it is okay to approach them.

3. If you walk up to someone you do not speak until they acknowledge you especially when they are talking to someone else.

4. If two people are talking do not walk between them unless it is impossible to get around them and then always excuse yourself when you do.

5. When you are talking to someone do not stand where people have to walk between you to get around you. Step out of the way to stand and speak to someone.

6. Speak in a soft voice especially when around elders.

7. When someone else is speaking listen to what they are saying. Do not be busy thinking about what you are going to say next when others are talking.

8. Do not interrupt anyone when they are speaking especially an Elder. Most Elders I know will quit speaking or teaching if they keep getting interrupted.

9. If you do not want to listen to someone do not put yourself in a position where you have to listen to them.

10. When at a gathering where elders are present do not speak unless asked to.

11. When you have guest always great them with respect. Give them the best place to sleep, the best blankets to use, and the best food.

12. We two-leggeds (humans) are the only ones that are out of balance with Mother Earth. Always strive to keep your life in balance as that is where true peace comes from.

13. Everything on Mother Earth is our relatives. Treat them with respect. If we were not here the plants and animals would be better off. If the plants and animals were not here we would die and could not exist. Remember who needs who.

14. When you hurt someone you hurt yourself, when you respect someone you respect yourself.

15. No matter what color a two-legged (human) is they have there own beauty. A rainbow is not beautiful because it is one color. A rainbow is beautiful because it has many colors. No matter what color someone is or what they look like they carry their own beauty.

16. There is no one you cannot learn something from as long as you treat them with respect. We learn from the little child and from the Elder. No matter what season someone is on the circle of life we can learn from them.

17. Today is your yesterday and today is your tomorrow. You can only live now but how you live now affects your tomorrow.

18. Walk in a good way today and tomorrow will be good.

19. If you are reading this you were given the breathe of life today and that is a wonderful gift. Many did not wake up today. Be grateful for another walking on Mother Earth and breathing the breathe of life.

20. Spend time each day saying thank you for the ones in your life and what you have.

Well That Is For Now

Is There Hope For Respect To Be Brought Back

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Our Home On The Internet
Our Home On The Internet

Where we hang out

Come Visit Us

We publish a newsletter called Firebear's Ramblings with more of the teachings that we have learned from our Elders.  If you would like to receive it  Click Here.

Books I Like - Be sure and scroll to the bottom and leave your comment before you go.

These are a few books that I have enjoyed reading and that have made me think.

If someone one unexpectedly has been respectful to you share your story to bring a smile to our faces.

We want to know what you think - Can we working together bring respect for the individual back.

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    • bofirebear profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @Carashops: I agree CaraShops I believe it can be changed through teaching. I think many people disrespect others just because they have not been taught what is right.

    • Carashops profile image


      6 years ago

      Lovely lens. I have to believe, for my own peace of mind, that everyone can learn to be respectful.

    • bofirebear profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @anonymous: I hope you continue to learn about us. Thank you for stopping by.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Nice lens.....I love learning about Native Americans!

    • bofirebear profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @delia-delia: I believe that a change is already starting to take place. You are right the pendulum will swing back to where it should be when we help teach respect. Thank you for your comments very well spoken.

    • delia-delia profile image


      6 years ago

      Very nicely written lens! It saddens my heart to see so much disrespect in the world, a great deal of this goes on on the Internet because of hidden identities. Like everything else, it has to come full circle and people will tire of it and hopefully instill a change, most likely not in my lifetime.

    • bofirebear profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @Snakesmum: I agree but hopefully like many problems when we become aware of them something can be done about them.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      My partner and I were only talking recently about how people today have little or no respect. It's what is lacking in making our society a better place. Nice lens.

    • bofirebear profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @teresa-shatto: Thank you I am glad you enjoyed it.

    • teresa-shatto profile image


      6 years ago

      Beautiful lens...thank you so much for writing it. One of my favorites here at Squidoo.

    • CoolFool83 profile image


      6 years ago

      I love a lot the Native Americans teachings. Very nice lense.

    • bofirebear profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @viscri8: Thank you and very true. Without respect for the individual there is no respect for the community

    • KandDMarketing profile image


      6 years ago

      People look at my wife and I like we might have additional appendages, at times. This is because each and every animal we raise on the farm has a name and is treated as an individual. They ask, well then they are "pets", right? and we say no, that we eat what we raise and sell a bit, as well. They look at us as described above ... until either my wife or I explain that in this way, we honor the animal who has given us it's life and we know who to thank, when eating a meal. Some get it, some don't. The ones that don't can't seem to realise that the meat they eat is anything other than a commodity.

    • viscri8 profile image


      6 years ago

      Respect is an important value to all traditional cultures -- because it affects the whole community -- be extension, the whole world. It has been understood by generations of experience and the wisdom from that.Blessed!

    • bofirebear profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @squidoopets: You are right, when we teach others to respect all of life beautiful things happen. I believe that people are naturally respectful and it is a part of us. When we are shown how to be respectful we are more then willing to do that. We are part of Mother Earth and when we respect that we can see the beauty that surrounds us.

    • squidoopets profile image

      Darcie French 

      6 years ago from Abbotsford, BC

      I am big on teaching my daughter to be respectful to all of life. I've seen some really beautiful things happen.

    • TransplantedSoul profile image


      6 years ago

      You write about an important topic. There are many great people out there that treat each other wonderfully. We can all learn through them and lessons like you detail here.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Your perspective is a hard and powerful truth and you are correct, but know that this is a world wide problem and not just a native issue.

      Human beings are after all animals. We are one of only a few social animals that have succeeded by community cooperation. The problem is that our basic animal evolution is protect yourself first, your family and then your community. We can respect others when we can afford to respect others. When times are tough or the community is too large and competition is strong for anything, we longer can afford to be respectful.

      And with all due respect to the Native people of the Americas. Competition throughout history was fierce to survive with the limited resources that existed. Most of the nations of people were nomadic. Moving regularly to find the day to day necessities to survive. Your own history will tell you that there was a fierce competition with other nations with overlapping territories. This got much much worse when the United States government pushed large nations from the east to the western territories. This is about survival and not respect or cooperation.

      I am certain that as times are tough across the country, times are even tougher on native nations. Young people become disenfranchised with what they see as their options. Disrespect is is a defensive mechanism. Young people find these times even harder to adjust too. Having a long beautiful history of power and glory,becomes hard to swallow when you have few options today and some strike out in different ways.

      Native people and others have tough times to work through. Humans will come together when things are really bad, but like all animals we still fight and steal and kill to survive.

      It is important for leaders and parents to teach respect and community. Keep up the good fight. It will never be won, but it cannot ever be lost.

    • bofirebear profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @tonybonura: Couldn't have said it better. Ome

    • siobhanryan profile image


      6 years ago

      We can but hope for the return of respect-Blessed

    • bofirebear profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @Mary Crowther: Thank you I am honored by your visit and appreciate it.

    • Mary Crowther profile image

      Mary Crowther 

      6 years ago from Havre de Grace

      Very special lens, Angel Blessings!

    • tonybonura profile image

      Tony Bonura 

      6 years ago from Tickfaw, Louisiana

      Respect for others is the American way. It will only return when people re-learn to respect THEMSELVES.


    • lesliesinclair profile image


      6 years ago

      Your teachings on respect bring such dignity to the subject.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great lens! We can all work together to be more respectful.

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image


      6 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      I thank you for sharing this very important message. Nothing is more important than showing respect for one another.

    • mihgasper profile image

      Miha Gasper 

      6 years ago from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU

      There is still hope, but some radical changes will happen first. i hope they will not be too painful


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