Chief Seattle

Here is a treat of a guest post – all the way from 1852. It is an excerpt of Chief Seattle’s letter to the president in Washington all those years ago and is, perhaps, even more important today. I took a transcript from an interview with Joseph Campbell, which you can find here.

“The president in Washington sends words that he wishes to buy our land. But how can you buy or sell the sky, the land? The idea is strange to us.

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; all are holy in the memory and experience of my people. 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. Each ghostly reflection in the clear waters of the lake 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 carry our canoes and feed our children.

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. 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.

Your destiny is a mystery to us. What will happen when the buffalo are all slaughtered? 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? The end of living and the beginning of survival. When the last red man has vanished with the 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 spirit of my people left? We love this earth like 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. 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.”

— Chief Seattle 1852.

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