The Soul Would Have No Rainbow

I’ve been reading The Soul Would Have No Rainbow if the Eyes Had No Tears and other Native American Proverbs, collected by Guy A. Zona. He thanks the individuals and organizations who contributed to the collection below.

From the Preface:

Proverbs are time-honored truths which condense the collected wisdom and experience of a people and their culture. If you want to know a people, the saying goes, know their proverbs.

Proverbs often serve as a means of instruction in the rules of conduct and ethical behavior expected by all members of a society; what makes them an effective tool is that they are based on a keen observation of human nature and behavior rather than an idealized and unrealistic standard.

The proverbs collected in The Soul Would Have No Rainbow if the Eyes Had No Tears are those of people who love the land and regard it as sacred, who see daily prayer as a duty, and have no need to set apart one day in seven as a holy day, but rather observe every day as God’s day. They recognize and honor women in their roles as mothers, teachers, artists and in governing the tribe.

The Native American tribes’ models of eloquence are to be found not in books but in the living orators of their local and national assemblies and tribal functions. They are the true authors of this volume, which makes a small attempt to honor their great oral traditions.

–Guy A. Zona


I was thinking about this book as I walked through the land to capture images on this foggy Sunday, or First day as some Quakers say, morning. I remembered what was written about every day as God’s day, because we Quakers say we believe that as well. I wonder what proverbs Quakers might have.

I am reminded of my friends Alton and Foxy Onefeather, who carried a sign saying “Earth is my Church” during the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March (2018). One of the most powerful things I remember from that March (walking 94 miles along the path of the Dakota Access pipeline) were the prayers offered by my friend Donnielle Wanatee at those times when we walked across the path of the pipeline. Standing on top of the pipeline caused great emotion and tears.

I realize those who are lost, who practice lies and war, can not have proverbs because they do not have honorable rules of conduct and ethical behavior. No collected wisdom. How tragic that is.


With all things and in all things, we are relatives. SIOUX

Stand in the light when you want to speak out. CROW

All Children of the Earth will be welcome at our council fires. SENECA

Give me knowledge so I may have kindness for all. PLAINS INDIAN


The author is indebted to the following individuals and organizations for their contributions to this collection.

  • The American Indian Heritage Foundation
  • The American Indian Lore Association
  • Blue Cloud Abbey
  • Chief Serpent’s Tail
  • Chief Standing Bear
  • The Council for Indian Education
  • Eastern Shawnee Tribe
  • Eastern Shoshone Cultural Resource Center
  • Pride Runs Deep

This entry was posted in #NDAPL, Dakota Access pipeline, First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March, Great Plains Action Society, Indigenous, Quaker, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply