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‘The Great Chief sends us words of friendship and good will.
This is kind since we know he has little need of our friendship in return ~
But we will consider your offer, for we know if we do not do so, the white man
may come with guns and take our land. What Chief Sealth says, the Great Chief
in Washington can count on as truly as our white brothers can count on
the return of the seasons. My words are like the stars ~ they do not set.
How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land?
The idea is strange to us.
Yet we do not own the freshness of the air or the sparkle of the water.
How can you buy them from us? We will decide in our time.
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.
We know that the white man does not understand our ways.
One portion of the 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, when he has conquered it, he moves on.
He leaves his fathers’ graves and his children’s birth right is forgotten.
The sight of your cities pains the eyes of the redman.
But perhaps it is because the redman is a savage
and does not understand ~
There is no quiet place in the white man’s cities.
No place to hear the leaves of spring or the rustle of insects’ wings.
But perhaps 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 lovely cry of a whippoorwill or the arguments of frogs around a pond at night?
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 a pinon pine. The air is precious to the redman.
For all things share the same breath ~
the beasts, the trees, the man.
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.
If I 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 have seen a thousand rotting buffalo bodies 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 men would die from great loneliness of spirit,
for whatever happens to the beast also happens to man.
All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth
befalls the sons and daughters of the earth.
Our children have seen their fathers humbled in defeat.
Our warriors have felt shame, and after defeat, they turn their days
to 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 a people once as powerful and hopeful as ours.
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 body of man.
And his compassion is equal for the redman and the white.
This earth is precious to Him.
And to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its Creator.