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Chief Seattle’s Letter

Chief Seattle’s Letter

Chief Seattle

Chief Seattle's Letter

Chief Seattle (more correctly known as Chief Seathl) was a Suquamish chief who lived on the islands of the Puget Sound. As a young warrior, Chief Seattle was known for his courage, daring, and leadership. He gained control of six of the local tribes and continued the friendly relations with the local whites that had been established by his father. His now famous speech was believed to have been given in December 1854.

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 the 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.Chief Seattle

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?

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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 Redman or White man, can be apart.

We ARE all brothers after all."

Chief Seattle

View Comments (10)
  • These words from Chief Seattle are always worth repeating and for all of us to adhere even in this day and time…the words are ageless and always relevant.

  • I dread to think what he would think of the World if he could see it now. Mans greed for material possessions has overtaken his love of the planet. I am lucky that I live in a beautiful part of the country (Wales) and it is easy to feel a connection with nature and to appreciate the beauty that is around. I feel so sorry for the people in big cities and towns that probably dont feel the slightest bit connected with nature, just got in the rat race of living to exist. This letter should be read to every child.

  • I am active in my heart and soul to see all living creatures as equal. I love all life and yeach my children the same values. Chief Seattle describes how we are all connected.
    Thank you Great Spirit as you continue to love and teach long after you have departed this earth.

    Dancing Spirit

  • I love what this letter says. It is exactly how I feel about Earth. The more we practice that connection that the Chief Seattle speaks about, the less we pollute or damage the land, Earth. And I am saying that we have to feel such connection because many times we damage Earth out of ignorance, and not out of willingness to protect it. Thus, the connection with nature would allow us to better understand and therefore to make better decisions that would benefit Earth and all humanity.

  • Thank you for this…he was an ancestor of mine! I will share this friends and family, huy’ch’qa siem I raise my hands in gratitude!

  • Thank you for this…I have to recite an important speech for my Toastmaster’s Club. This will be it…only thing is I cannot recite it without bursting into tears! What have we done/what are we doing to this earth?!

  • You’re right, Beth. How he could have had such insight was surely a divine gift. But I’m also certain that he had quite a glimpse of the white man being less than compassionate to the Earth, even then. I am so sorry that we as a society turned away from what was really important. I hope we find our way soon.

  • It’s good that you’ve shared Chief Seattle’s words… It’s such a contrast from where we’ve gone as a society. It’s time to get back to the Earth. Good planets are hard to find. 🙂

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