15 June, 2012

Native American Chief Seattle And His Powerful Speech

Native Americans Indian Sacrifice

This is something new to me but maybe it's well known in the USA. It's a speech said to be by a Native American called Chief Seattle - also known as Si'ahl, Sealth, Seathle, Seathl, or See-ahth. He lived from 1780 to 1866 and gave this speech, probably in 1854, about handing over native lands to the new white settlers.

The content of the speech is disputed, some would say it's bits and pieces from what he actually said and others that perhaps it's a mish mash created by someone called Ted Perry (no relation!). However, I don't think this really matters, though no doubt will to purists. For me the content is something very powerful.

Chief Seattle's Letter

Chief Seattle"The President in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. But how can you buy or sell the sky? The land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?

Every part of the earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect. All are holy in the memory and experience of my people.

We know the sap which courses through the trees as we know the blood that courses through our veins. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters. The bear, the deer, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the dew in the meadow, the body heat of the pony, and man all belong to the same family.

The shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water, but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you our land, you must remember that it is sacred. Each glossy reflection in the clear waters of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people. The water's murmur is the voice of my father's father.

The rivers are our brothers. They quench our thirst. They carry our canoes and feed our children. So you must give the rivers the kindness that you would give any brother.

If we sell you our land, remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life that it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also received his last sigh. The wind also gives our children the spirit of life. So if we sell our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow flowers.

Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother? What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth.

This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. One thing we know: our God is also your God. The earth is precious to him and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator.

Your destiny is a mystery to us. What will happen when the buffalo are all slaughtered? The wild horses tamed? What will happen when the secret corners of the forest are heavy with the scent of many men and the view of the ripe hills is blotted with talking wires? Where will the thicket be? Gone! Where will the eagle be? Gone! And what is to say goodbye to the swift pony and then hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival.

When the last red man has vanished with this wilderness, and his memory is only the shadow of a cloud moving across the prairie, will these shores and forests still be here? Will there be any of the spirit of my people left?

We love this earth as a newborn loves its mother's heartbeat. So, if we sell you our land, love it as we have loved it. Care for it, as we have cared for it. Hold in your mind the memory of the land as it is when you receive it. Preserve the land for all children, and love it, as God loves us.

As we are part of the land, you too are part of the land. This earth is precious to us. It is also precious to you. One thing we know - there is only one God. No man, be he Red man or White man, can be apart. We are all brothers after all."

Further Posts:
Tecumseh And The Shawnee Way To Live And Die
The Indians Of Haiti As Observed By Christopher Columbus
Tecumseh And The Presidential Curse Coincidence

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13 comments:

  1. The Chief knew what he was talking about and we have forgotten. I've never seen this before either.

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    1. Yes, it's all still relevant today.

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  2. This should be compulsory reading for everybody. We never know what we've had until it's gone. Cherish everything as if it were your own. Thanks for finding and posting this Mike.

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    1. Not sure about 'compulsory' but it's message is important to us on the Earth at the present time.

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  3. nice one mike, i wonder if we are getting to that state talked about in the speech = the end of living and the beginning of survival.

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    1. You've picked out an important sentence Tom - thanks.

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  4. Unfortunately, this speech is not well known in the States. It's not even that well know in Seattle, where I've lived my entire life. The only reason I'm aware of it is because I researched the history of Seattle back in the 80s when I was a teenager, out of curiosity. It's interesting that this speech is as relevant today as it was in 1854, if not more so. Some day soon, I believe, we will find out that we all truly are ONE, and that nature is as alive as we are, and it is our duty to take care of her, as she has cared for us. Thankfully, Chief Seathl's words live on and inspire us to understand the true meaning of beauty.

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    1. Thanks Laurie for your comment - appreciated. I feel we can learn lots of lessons from history. Also agree that we may one day accept that we are all one and that nature is alive.

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  5. Love your blog Mike!
    Come visit us in Seattle!!

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    1. I may one day! Thanks for the invite!!

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  6. During college days I lived three months on a Cherokee Reservation. The experience was life changing; I was accepted in love. I do remember reading this speech at their museum; I don't recall word for word, but it's true and heart-wrenching. Indeed, who can own the land; who can own the sky? Neither do I recall the tribe he was from, yet it was displayed among the Cherokee writings.
    Love the photo, though it is both beautiful and haunting.

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  7. What a great experience to have lived on a Cherokee Reservation. I can well believe it as being life changing. Good to hear that someone has heard of this speech, I imagined it would have been well known in the US.

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  8. Unfortunately, this speech is a fake, a myth. It was written in 1970 by Ted Perry (!) for the scenario of a documentary about environment.

    Use the translator from this link :
    http://www.agoravox.fr/actualites/environnement/article/le-mythe-du-discours-du-chef-74564

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