A letter written by Chief Seathl to President Franklin Pierce in 1855 regarding land the white people wanted to buy

Thursday, July 3, 2014, 11:52

There is no quiet place in the white man's cities. No place to hear the leaves of autumn or the rustle of insects' wings. Perhaps because I am a savage and do not understand, the clatter insults the ears. And what is life if man cannot hear the lovely call of the whippoorwill or the argument of frogs around a pond at night?

(Click title to read full text)

The indian prefers the soft sound of the wind darting over the face of the pond; and the smell of the wind itself, cleansed by a mid-day rain or scented with pine. The air is precious to the red man, because all share the same breathe ? the beasts, the trees and man himself. The white man does not seem to notice the air he breathes. Like a man dying for many days he is numb to the smell of his own stench.If I decide to accept, I will make one condition: The white man must treat the beasts of this land as his own brothers. I am a savage and do not understand any other way. I have seen a thousand rotting buffaloes on the prairies. Left by the white man who shot them from a passing train. I am a savage and do not understand how the smoking iron horse can be more important than the buffalo that we kill only to live. What is man without the beasts? If all beasts were gone, man would die from great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to man. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth.

Our children have seen their fathers humbled in defeat. Our warriors have felt shame. After defeat they spend their days in idleness, and contaminate their bodies with sweet food and strong drink. It matters little where we pass the rest of our days ? they are not many. A few more hours, a few more winters and none of the children of the great tribes that once lived on this earth, or that roamed in small bands in the woods, will be left to mourn the graves of people once as powerful and hopeful as yours.

One thing we know and the white man may one day discover the truth of it: Our god is the same as your god. You may now think that you own him in the same way that you wish to own our land. But you cannot. He is the god of man. And his compassion is equal for the red and the white. This earth is precious to him and to harm the earth is to heap contempt upon its creator.

The whites too shall pass ? perhaps sooner than other tribes. Continue to contaminate your bed and you will one night suffocate in your own waste. When the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses all tamed, the secret corners of the forest heavy with the scent of many men, and the view of the ripe hills blotted by talking wives, where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the eagle? Gone. This marks the end of living and the beginning of survival.

We might understand if we knew what the white man dreams, what hopes he describes to his children on long winter nights. What visions he burns into their minds so that they will wish for tomorrow. But we are savages. The white man's dreams are hidden from us. And because they are hidden we will go our own way.

If we agree to sell our land, it will be to secure the indian reservation you have promised us. There, perhaps, we may live out our brief days as we wish.

When the last red man has vanished from the earth, and the memory of him is like the shadow of a cloud moving across the prairie, the shores and forests will still hold the spirits of my people for we love the earth as the new born loves his mother's heartbeat.


No comments yet.
(*) Required fields
Website Built with Kopage
← Get yours now