Traditional Native American Ethics

While popularly imagined in the ‘noble savage’ tradition, living in societies free of laws and regulation, American Indian cultures actually created highly refined, complex codes of laws and social norms that governed people’s conduct before contact with Europeans.” (Johansen, 2007)

Some of our most effective leaders of the past shared these common characteristics. They were:
  • caring,
  • compassionate,
  • courageous,
  • honest,
  • humble,
  • respectful, and
  • served the people before themselves.

All of these characteristics can be considered important ethics in our society. Traditional leaders of the past were not afraid to stand by these ethics. They also dared to face reality. They defined underlying problems of the tribe so those very real problems could be solved. They served all individuals of the tribe, not just a select few.