Friday, 2 November 2007


Chief Seattle's
Speech to
All People

This is an English version by Ted Perry of the speech Chief Seattle gave in his native tongue. In 1854 this speech was given upon requests from the U.S government to take the land that Chief Seattle's people- the Suquamish and Duwamish tribes lived upon. It is not a direct translation, but inspired by and true to the spirit of the speech he gave.

"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 this 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 juices 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 our land, you must remember that it is sacred. Each ghostly 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 to the rivers the kindness 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 it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also receives his last sigh. The wind also gives our children the spirit of life. So if we sell you 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 by talking wires? Where will the thicket be? Gone! Where will the eagle be? Gone! And what is it to say goodbye to the swift pony and the hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival.

"When the last Red Man has vanished with his 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 spirits 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 all.

"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 brothers after all."


Mousie/Paisible said...

that's a beautiful text dear, thanks for sharing...
with love

Icarus said...

154 years later, which is really no time at all, but the Chief's appeal and all his questions - which, needless to say, went unheard & unheeded - take on added poignancy & urgency, because now it is all too easy to see that he was right & the Great White Father in the White House & all his successors, plus their friends were all wrong. I wonder, if he were alive today, would he have won the Nobel Peace Prize? For simple, logical, homespun wisdom?
It makes me sad, that 154 years of mostly unbridled, greedy grabbing, drowning in concrete & fumes & the destruction of what there is no point in trying to live without - nature (which IS beautiful!).


AintNeverScared said...

I agree so much with Icarus ... nothing has been solved. One might argue that it's even worse for the Native American now. I don't know how the U.S. can "look at itself in the mirror," so to speak, sometimes.

What, might I ask, motivated you to visit this issue, and this speech?

Audrey said...

Mousie it is beautiful isnt it,hope all is well with you xxxxx much love

Audrey said...

It saddens me too Stewart. Although specific to his people and time 150 years on its universal, his words" the end of living the beginning of survival" hit me hard when I first heard his speech. Progress???

Audrey said...

Aintneverscared, I first heard this speech over 15 years ago, it touched me deeply then and why I revisit it now?? I think it reminds me of whats truly important, what is worth fighting for...what truly matters...Good question may try answering it in my next post.. Hope all is well with you xxxxx Auds