Words of wisdom


From a letter from the Chief Seattle of the Duvamish tribe To the President of the United States, 1855

To the great chief in Washington

‘’ How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. Yet we don’t 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 the earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist of the divine woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory of my people.

We know that the white man doesn’t 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 move on. He lives his fathers’ graves behind him and he doesn’t care. He kidnaps the earth from his children, he doesn’t care. His fathers’ graves and his children’s birthright are forgotten.

His appetite will endeavor the earth and leave behind only a desert. The sight of your cities pain the eyes of the redman. But perhaps it is because the redman is savage and doesn’t understand.

One thing we know that 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 all people. And his compassion is equal for the redman and the white.

The 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 the other tribes. Continue to contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your waste.

When the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses are tamed… where is the ticket? Gone. Where is the eagle? Gone. And what is to say goodbye to the swift pony and the hunt, but the end of living and the beginning of survival.

We might understand if we knew the white man dreams, what hopes he describes to his children on long winter nights, what visions he bums into their minds, so that they will wish for tomorrow

But we are savages. The white man’s dreams are hidden from us… 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 take it.

And with all your strength, with all your might, and with all your heart, preserve it for your children, and love it as God loves us all.

One thing we know, our God is the same God.

Even the white man cannot be exempt from the common destiny.


From a letter from the Chief Seattle of the Duvamish tribe

To the President of the United States, 1855