Title: Chief Seattle speech – We are part of the earth and it is part of us.
Publisher: Shakespir, Inc.
Chief Seattle, 1786-1866, was Northwest coast Indian of the Suquami tribe and should give name to the city of Seattle. He was an important part of the whites peace treaties with the Northwest Coast Indians. As a prelude to negotiating treaties with the United States, he delivered a speech to Governor Stevens in 1854 and it is this speech that is “Chief Seattle’s speech.”
Chief Seattle was famous for his eloquence, and someone claimed he could be heard over long distances. He had certainly sense of staging. When he made his famous speech, he should have put his hand on the governor’s head, which should also reflect the fact that he was of considerable size.
There were many Indian tribes present who spoke different languages. Then the governor’s speech had first to be translated into the pidgin language that had evolved by the contact with the whites. (It is called chinook-jargon, and was a mixture of chi-nook, English and French.) After which others translated it to the various Indian languages. When the Indians spoke walked process the other way.
One of the suffer being, the 34-year-old Dr. Henry Smith, took notes, but what is not clear. He even called the notes for “a fragment of Seattle’s speech,” Smith published a number of articles and poems, but it is only 34 years after he reproduces Chief Seattle’s speech. It was part of the autumn of 1887 in a series of articles he wrote for the Seattle Sunday Star on pioneer times..
In the following years the speech was interpreted and interpreted more or less at will. During the Great Depression in the 30s was released with hints of having to prophesy of a coming social breakdown. During WW2 were presented as a kind of Seattle fancies. In the 60s, he was designated as a significant Catholic. (Note: It is said that Seattle was baptized by Catholics around 1830, but there is nothing in the speech to suggest that this has stuck very deep. I guess it was a kindness to the white, or perhaps survival strategy. At least said that he took the name of Noah). But it was not until 1971 that the speech was interpreted and re-released in a version that has caused much stir. The initiation was in the case innocently.
A university teacher in Texas, William Arrowsmith thought it was a shame that the speech content due to old word forms were unavailable for the present, after which he modernized it. A friend Ted Perry had to make a script for an environmental film for the Southern Baptist Convention, and found Arrow Smith’s version so inspiring that he asked for permission to borrow it.
But apart from Seattles name he kept incredibly little of the speech in the manuscript. Ted Perry interpreted and reshaped the text from its own vision of Earth’s future in light of the white man’s exploitation of all resources. He describes the Indians cohabitation with nature and contrasting it with the white man’s rampage. It is a personification of our conception of “Indian” and as such was the message hit home. Maybe it was the following phrases which inspired Ted Perry:
“Every part of this country is sacred to my people. Every hill every valley, every plain and every grove was inaugurated by a happy memory or a sad experience of my tribe.”
It as in Smith’s version is a kind of ancestor worship, translated by Perry to an environmental program. He poet ahead and leave Seattle say that the rivers are our brothers, the earth is our mother and so on. Where Seattle in the historical reproduction soberly cherish tribal interests, leaving Perry him a prophet and say:
“Anything that hits the ground, will also hit the earth’s sons.”
The speech began performing as an independent text and became immensely popular. It is published in a myriad of contexts in several media forms, from full version to short extracts. However, it is a challenge to talk to Ted Perry version is not in line with either historical or cultural facts. It could not be held by the Chief Seattle. In Ted Perry version he talks about things like the world first saw much later than in 1854 (bison shot droves from the train) and what he leaves Seattle say about God is just the opposite of what Henry Smith reproduces.
The reason for the popularity of Perry’s version is perhaps that it lives up to our stereotype of Indians, at the same time as it meets a need for a cultural self-understanding, which holds tribute to nature, shamanism.
Chief Seattle’s beautiful speech from 1854 through the ages interpreted and construed in many ways. Here you have the opportunity to read the speech in its two main versions and even decide what you think thereof. Both are beautiful in their own way.
“If we sell our land, so love it, as we loved it. Take care of it as we took care of it. Preserve the memory of the country as it was when you took it. And take care with all your strength, spirit and heart for the sake of your children.”
The article by dr. Henry A. Smith brought in Seattle Sunday Star October 29, 1887.
OLD MEMORIES, Number Ten, Excerpts from a diary.
Old Chief Seattle was the largest Indian I have ever seen and by far the most noble of appearance. He towered six feet up in his moccasins, was broad-shouldered, with a big chest and on the whole well-proportioned. His eyes were big, intelligent, expressive, friendly relaxed while they faithfully reflected the changing moods of the grand soul that looked out of them.
He was usually solemn, silent and dignified, but for major events move he worked among the assembled crowd as a titan among Lilliputians, and his every word was law.
When he rose to speak in the council or to hand out instructions, was turned all eyes towards him, and from his lips flowed with deep and sonorous voice phrases that sounded like the incessant roar of the waterfall with inexhaustible sources and his glorious likeness was so noble as the most velskolede commander in command of the forces of an entire continent.
Neither his eloquence, his dignity or his elegance was undertaken. It was such a natural part of his manhood as leaves and flowers is a flowering almond.
His influence was incredible. He could have been an emperor, but all his instincts were democratic, and he steered his loyal subjects with kindness and paternal gentleness. He was always flattered when that was shown him attention from the white man, and never more than when he was seated at their table, and on one such occasion he showed himself more than ever with a gentleman ensure intellect.
When Governor Stevens first came to Seattle and told the natives that he had been appointed as Commissioner of Indian Affairs in Washington Territory, they gave him an overwhelming reception in front of dr. Maynards office near the banks of the main street. The bay swarmed with canoes and the shore was filled with a lively throng of swaying, twisting, dark figures until old Chief Seattle trumpetstød a voice rolled over the infinite folkemændgde equal a sudden reveille of a bass drum, then silence materialize so suddenly and completely, as it follows a clap of thunder from a clear sky.
The governor was then presented to the Native amount of dr. Maynard, and immediately began on a plain, unassuming way, to explain its role in those which are too well known to need that retold.
When he sat down, traveled Chief Seattle with dignity, as a senator who is responsible for a large nation on his shoulders. As he put one hand on the governor’s head and slowly pointed with the other index finger to the sky, he began his poignant, memorable speech..
_“Yonder sky that has wept tears of compassion upon my people for centuries untold, and which to us appears changeless and eternal, may change. Today is fair. Tomorrow it may be overcast with clouds. My words are like the stars that never change. Whatever Seattle says, the great chief at Washington can rely upon with as much certainty as he can upon the return of the sun or the seasons. _
[_The white chief says that Big Chief at Washington sends us greetings of friendship and goodwill. This is kind of him for we know he has little need of our friendship in return. His people are many. They are like the grass that covers vast prairies. My people are few. They resemble the scattering trees of a storm-swept plain. _]
The great, and I presume – good, White Chief sends us word that he wishes to buy our land but is willing to allow us enough to live comfortably. This indeed appears just, even generous, for the Red Man no longer has rights that he need respect, and the offer may be wise, also, as we are no longer in need of an extensive country.
There was a time when our people covered the land as the waves of a wind-ruffled sea cover its shell-paved floor, but that time long since passed away with the greatness of tribes that are now but a mournful memory. I will not dwell on, nor mourn over, our untimely decay, nor reproach my paleface brothers with hastening it, as we too may have been somewhat to blame.
_Youth is impulsive. When our young men grow angry at some real or imaginary wrong, and disfigure their faces with black paint, it denotes that their hearts are black, and that they are often cruel and relentless, and our old men and old women are unable to restrain them. Thus it has ever been. _
Thus it was when the white man began to push our forefathers ever westward. But let us hope that the hostilities between us may never return. We would have everything to lose and nothing to gain. Revenge by young men is considered gain, even at the cost of their own lives, but old [men who stay] at home in times of war, and mothers who have sons to lose, know better.
[_Our good father in Washington-for I presume he is now our father as well as yours, since King George has moved his boundaries further north-our great and good father, I say, sends us word that if we do as he desires he will protect us. His brave warriors will be to us a bristling wall of strength, and his wonderful ships of war will fill our harbors, so that our ancient enemies far to the northward – the Haidas and Tsimshians – will cease to frighten our women, children, and old men. _]
Then in reality he will be our father and we his children.
[_But can that ever be? _]
[_Your God is not our God! Your God loves your people and hates mine! He folds his strong protecting arms lovingly about the paleface and leads him by the hand as a father leads an infant son. But, He has forsaken His Red children, if they really are His. Our God, the Great Spirit, seems also to have forsaken us. _]
Your God makes your people wax stronger every day. Soon they will fill all the land. Our people are ebbing away like a rapidly receding tide that will never return. The white man’s God cannot love our people or He would protect them. They seem to be orphans who can look nowhere for help. How then can we be brothers? How can your God become our God and renew our prosperity and awaken in us dreams of returning greatness?
[_ If we have a common Heavenly Father He must be partial, for He came to His paleface children. We never saw Him. He gave you laws but had no word for His red children whose teeming multitudes once filled this vast continent as stars fill the firmament. No; we are two distinct races with separate origins and separate destinies. There is little in common between us._]
[_To us the ashes of our ancestors are sacred and their resting place is hallowed ground. You wander far from the graves of your ancestors and seemingly without regret. Your religion was written upon tablets of stone by the iron finger of your God so that you could not forget. The Red Man could never comprehend or remember it. Our religion is the traditions of our ancestors – the dreams of our old men, given them in solemn hours of the night by the Great Spirit; and the visions of our sachems, and is written in the hearts of our people. _]
_Your dead cease to love you and the land of their nativity as soon as they pass the portals of the tomb and wander away beyond the stars. They are soon forgotten and never return. Our dead never forget this beautiful world that gave them being. They still love its verdant valleys, its murmuring rivers, its magnificent mountains, sequestered vales and verdant lined lakes and bays, and ever yearn in tender fond affection over the lonely hearted living, and often return from the happy hunting ground to visit, guide, console, and comfort them. _
Day and night cannot dwell together. The Red Man has ever fled the approach of the White Man, as the morning mist flees before the morning sun. However, your proposition seems fair and I think that my people will accept it and will retire to the reservation you offer them. Then we will dwell apart in peace, for the words of the Great White Chief seem to be the words of nature speaking to my people out of dense darkness.
It matters little where we pass the remnant of our days. They will not be many. The Indian’s night promises to be dark. Not a single star of hope hovers above his horizon. Sad-voiced winds moan in the distance. Grim fate seems to be on the Red Man’s trail, and wherever he will hear the approaching footsteps of his fell destroyer and prepare stolidly to meet his doom, as does the wounded doe that hears the approaching footsteps of the hunter.
_A few more moon, a few more winters, and not one of the descendants of the mighty hosts that once moved over this broad land or lived in happy homes, protected by the Great Spirit, will remain to mourn over the graves of a people once more powerful and hopeful than yours. _
[_But why should I mourn at the untimely fate of my people? _]
Tribe follows tribe, and nation follows nation, like the waves of the sea. It is the order of nature, and regret is useless. Your time of decay may be distant, but it will surely come, for even the White Man whose God walked and talked with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We will see.
_We will ponder your proposition and when we decide we will let you know. But should we accept it, I here and now make this condition that we will not be denied the privilege without molestation of visiting at any time the tombs of our ancestors, friends, and children. _
_Ever part of this soil is sacred in the estimation of my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove, has been hallowed by some sad or happy event in days long vanished. Even the rocks, which seem to be dumb and dead as the swelter in the sun along the silent shore, thrill with memories of stirring events connected with the lives of my people, and the very dust upon which you now stand responds more lovingly to their footsteps than yours, because it is rich with the blood of our ancestors, and our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch. _
_Our departed braves, fond mothers, glad, happy hearted maidens, and even the little children who lived here and rejoiced here for a brief season, will love these somber solitudes and at eventide they greet shadowy returning spirits. And when the last Red Man shall have perished, and the memory of my tribe shall have become a myth among the White Men, these shores will swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe, and when your children’s children think themselves alone in the field, the store, the shop, upon the highway, or in the silence of the pathless woods, they will not be alone. _
In all the earth there is no place dedicated to solitude. At night when the streets of your cities and villages are silent and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful land. The White Man will never be alone. Let him be just and deal kindly with my people, for the dead are not powerless”.
Other speakers followed, but I took no notes. Governor Stevens answer was short. He promised them simply to meet for consultation on a future occasion to discuss the proposed treaty.
Chief Seattle’s promise to obey the Treaty if it were adopted, it was well received, for he was always a steadfast and faithful friend of the white man. The above is only a fragment of his speech, and lacks all the charm as the dark old speaker elegance and seriousness and the apartment endowed it with..
The Great Chief in Washington sends word that wishes to buy our land. The Great Chief also sends us words of friendship and goodwill. This is kind of him, since we know he has little need of our friendship in return. But we will consider your offer. For we know that if we do not sell, the white man may come with guns and take our land. How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us.
If we do not own the freshness of the air and 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 clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man.
The white man’s dead forget the country of their birth when they go to walk among the stars. Our dead never forget this beautiful earth, for it is the mother of the red man.
We are part of the earth and it is part of us.
The perfumed flowers are our sisters; the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers.
The rocky crests, the juices in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and man—all belong to the same family.
So, when the Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy land, he asks much of us. The Great Chief sends word he will reserve us a place so that we can live comfortably to ourselves.
He will be our father and we will be his children. So we will consider your offer to buy our land.
But it will not be easy. For this land is sacred to us.
This shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water but the blood of our ancestors.
If we sell you land, you must remember that it is sacred, and you must teach your children that it is sacred and that each ghostly reflection in the clear water 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. The rivers carry our canoes, and feed our children. If we sell you our land, you must remember, and teach your children, that the rivers are our brothers, and yours, and you must henceforth give the rivers the kindness you would give any brother.
We know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs.
The earth is not his brother, but his enemy, and when he has conquered it, he moves on.
He leaves his father’s graves behind, and he does not care.
He kidnaps the earth from his children, and he does not care.
His father’s grave, and his children’s birthright, are forgotten. He treats his mother, the earth, and his brother, the sky, as things to be bought, plundered, sold like sheep or bright beads.
His appetite will devour the earth and leave behind only a desert.
I do not know. Our ways are different from your ways.
The sight of your cities pains the eyes of the red man. But perhaps it is because the red man is a savage and does not understand.
There is no quiet place in the white man’s cities. No place to hear the unfurling of leaves in spring, or the rustle of an insect’s wings.
But perhaps it is because I am a savage and do not understand.
The clatter only seems to insult the ears. And what is there to life if a man cannot hear the lonely cry of the whippoorwill or the arguments of the frogs around a pond at night? I am a red man and do not understand.
The Indian prefers the soft sound of the wind darting over the face of a pond, and the smell of the wind itself, cleaned by a midday rain, or scented with the pinion pine.
The air is precious to the red man, for all things share the same breath—the beast, the tree, the man, they all share the same breath.
The white man does not seem to notice the air he breathes.
Like a man dying for many days, he is numb to the stench.
But if we sell you our land, you must 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.
And if we sell you our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where even the white man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow’s flowers.
So we will consider your offer to buy our land. If we decide to accept, I will make one condition: The white man must treat the beasts of this land as his brothers.
I am a savage and I do not understand any other way.
I’ve seen a thousand rotting buffaloes on the prairie, left by the white man who shot them from a passing train.
I am a savage and I do not understand how the smoking iron horse can be more important than the buffalo that we kill only to stay alive.
What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of spirit.
For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.
You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of your grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin.
Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the earth is our mother.
Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.
This we know: The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know.
All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.
Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth.
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.
Even the white man, whose God walks and talks with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny.
We may be brothers after all.
We shall see.
One thing we know, which the white man may one day discover, our God is the same God. You may think now that you own Him as you wish to own our land; but you cannot. He is the God of man, and His compassion is equal for the red man and the white.
This earth is precious to Him, and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its Creator.
The whites too shall pass; perhaps sooner than all other tribes. Contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.
But in your perishing you will shine brightly, fired by the strength of God who brought you to this land and for some special purpose gave you dominion over this land and over the red man.
That destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not understand when the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses are tamed, the secret corners of the forest heavy with scent of many men, and the view of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires.
Where is the thicket? Gone.
Where is the eagle? Gone.
The end of living and the beginning of survival.
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In addition to text material contains the 20-volume encyclopedic production in 2200 sublimely executed photogravures. With their dreamy character reflects the artful include Curtis’ pictorialistiske background as recognized portrait and landscape photographer.
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Chief Seattle, 1786-1866, was Northwest coast Indian of the Suquami tribe and should give name to the city of Seattle. He played an important part of the whites peace treaties. As a prelude to negotiating treaties with the United States, he delivered a speech to Governor Stevens in 1854 and it is this speech that is called "Chief Seattle's speech." Chief Seattle's beautiful speech from 1854 have through the ages been interpreted and construed in many ways. Here you have the opportunity to read the speech in its two main versions. Ted Perrys version of the Speech. And Henry A. Smidts version of the Speech published in Seattle Sunday Star October 29, 1887.