Quotes by N Scott Momaday

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Once in his life a man ought to concentrate his mind upon the remembered earth. He ought to give himself up to a particular landscape in his experience; to look at it from as many angles as he can, to wonder upon it, and dwell upon it. more...

Once in his life, a man ought to concentrate his mind upon the remembered earth, I believe. He ought to give himself up to a particular landscape in his experience, to look at it from as many angles as he can, to wonder about it, to dwell upon it. He ought to imagine that he touches it with his hands at every season and listens to the sounds that are made upon it. He ought to imagine the creatures there and all the faintest motions of the wind. He ought to recollect the glare of noon and all the colors of the dawn and dusk. more...

If you believe in the power of words, you can bring about physical changes in the universe. more...

To encounter the sacred is to be alive at the deepest center of human existence. Sacred places are the truest definitions of the earth; they stand for the earth immediately and forever; they are its flags and shields. If you would know the earth for what it really is, learn it through its sacred places. At Devil's Tower or Canyon de Chelly or the Cahokia Mounds, you touch the pulse of the living planet; you feel its breath upon you. You become one with a spirit that pervades geologic time and space. more...

Words were medicine; they were magic and invisible. They came from nothing into sound and meaning. They were beyond price; they could neither be bought nor sold. more...

They have assumed the names and gestures of their enemies, but have held on to their own, secret souls; and in this there is a resistance and an overcoming, a long outwaiting. more...

It is here that I can concentrate my mind upon the Remembered Earth. It is here that I am most conscious of being, here that wonder comes upon my blood, here I want to live forever; and it is no matter that I must die. more...

The character of the landscape changes from hour to hour, day to day, season to season. Nothing of the earth can be taken for granted; you feel that Creation is going on in your sight. You see things in the high air that you do not see farther down in the lowlands. In the high country all objects bear upon you, and you touch hard upon the earth. From my home I can see the huge, billowing clouds; they draw close upon me and merge with my life. more...

The Kiowas reckoned their stature by the distance they could see. more...

The first word gives origin to the second, the first and second to the third, and the third to the fourth, and so on. You cannot begin with the second word... more...

We are what we imagine. Our very existence consists in our imagination of ourselves. Our best destiny is to imagine, at least, completely, who and what, and that we are. The greatest tragedy that can befall us is to go unimagined. more...

A word has power in and of itself. It comes from nothing into sound and meaning; it gives origin to all things. more...

To encounter the sacred is to be alive at the deepest center of human existence. Sacred places are the truest definitions of the earth; they stand for the earth immediately and forever; they are its flags and shields. If you would know the earth for what it really is, learn it through its sacred places. At Devil's Tower or Canyon de Chelly or the Cahokia Mounds, you touch the pulse of the living planet; you feel its breath upon you. You become one with a spirit that pervades geologic time and space. more...

The highest human purpose is always to reinvent and celebrate the sacred. more...

Writing engenders in us certain attitudes toward language. It encourages us to take words for granted. Writing has enabled us to store vast quantities of words indefinitely. This is advantageous on the one hand but dangerous on the other. The result is that we have developed a kind of false security where language is concerned, and our sensitivity to language has deteriorated. And we have become in proportion insensitive to silence. more...

In the beginning was the word, and it was spoken. more...

To look upon that landscape in the early morning, with the sun at your back, is to lose the sense of proportion. more...

He used both hands when he made the bear. Imagine a bear proceeding from the hands of God. more...

I sometimes think the contemporary white American is more culturally deprived than the Indian. more...

For the storyteller, for the arrowmaker, language does indeed represent the only chance for survival. more...

I am interested in the way that we look at a given landscape and take possession of it in our blood and brain. None of us lives apart from the land entirely; such an isolation is unimaginable. If we are to realize and maintain our humanity, we must come to a moral comprehension of earth and air as it is perceived in the long turn of seasons and of years. more...

There is a great good in returning to a landscape that has had extraordinary meaning in one's life. It happens that we return to such places in our minds irresistibly. There are certain villages and towns, mountains and plains that, having seen them walked in them lived in them even for a day, we keep forever in the mind's eye. They become indispensable to our well-being; they define us, and we say, I am who I am because I have been there, or there. more...

It's a landscape that has to be seen to be believed. And as I say on occasion, it may have to be believed in order to be seen. more...

Your imagination comes to life, and this, you think, is where Creation was begun. more...

The turn of the century was the lowest point for the devastation of Indian culture by disease and persecution, and it's a wonder to me that they survived it and have not only maintained their identity, but are actually growing stronger in some ways. The situation is still very bad, especially in certain geographical areas, but there are more Indians going to school, more Indians becoming professional people, more Indians assuming full responsibility in our society. We have a long way to go, but we're making great strides. more...

Loneliness is an aspect of the land. more...

Her name is Ago, and she belonged to the last culture to evolve in North America. more...

Although my grandmother lived out her long life in the shadow of Rainy Mountian, the immense landscape of the continental interior lay like memory in her blood more...

My line of vision was such that the creature filled the moon like a fossil. It had gone there, I thought, to live and die, for there, of all places, was its small definition made whole and eternal more...

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. more...

I wonder if, in the dark night of the sea, the octopus dreams of me. more...

There was only the dark infinity in which nothing was. And something happened. At the distance of a star something happened, and everything began. The Word did not come into being, but it was. It did not break upon the silence, but it was older than the silence and the silence was made of it. more...

Coyotes have the gift of seldom being seen; they keep to the edge of vision and beyond, loping in and out of cover on the plains and highlands. And at night, when the whole world belongs to them, they parley at the river with the dogs, their higher, sharper voices full of authority and rebuke. They are an old council of clowns, and they are listened to. more...

I am interested in the way that we look at a given landscape and take possession of it in our blood and brain. None of us lives apart from the land entirely; such an isolation is unimaginable. more...

I have deep roots in this Oklahoma soil. It makes me proud. more...

I am a member of the Kiowa Gourd Dance Society; I visit sacred places such as Devil's Tower and the Medicine Wheel. These places are important to me, because they've been made sacred by sacrifice, by the investment of blood and experience and story. more...

Writing is not a matter of choice. Writers have to write. It is somehow in their temperament, in the blood, in tradition. more...

Indians are marvelous storytellers. In some ways, that oral tradition is stronger than the written tradition. more...

As far as I am concerned, poetry is a statement concerning the human condition, composed in verse. more...

I have a pretty good knowledge of the Indian world by virtue of living on several different reservations and being exposed to several different cultures and languages. more...

The spiritual reality of the Indian world is very evident, very highly developed. I think it affects the life of every Indian person in one way or another. more...

Sometimes, I think the best kind of poem is one in which there is an acute balance between what is humorous and that which is very serious. That balance is very hard to strike. But it can be done. more...

My father was a painter and he taught art. He once said to me, 'I never knew an Indian child who could not draw.' more...


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