posted on Dec, 14 2009 @ 08:21 AM
There is a speech attributed to the great Chief Si'ahl, otherwise known as Chief Seattle. While there is much controversy over the speech and there
are various versions of the speech, it is a worthwhile read. The speech was reportedly given in 1854 as a sort of concession speech to the white man,
and the version I offer ATS readers was printed in the Seattle Sunday Star on October 29, 1887:
Yonder sky that has wept tears of compassion upon my people for centuries untold, and which to us appears changeless and eternal, may change. Today is
fair. Tomorrow it may be overcast with clouds. My words are like the stars that never change. Whatever Seattle says, the great chief at Washington can
rely upon with as much certainty as he can upon the return of the sun or the seasons. The white chief says that Big Chief at Washington sends us
greetings of friendship and goodwill. This is kind of him for we know he has little need of our friendship in return. His people are many. They are
like the grass that covers vast prairies. My people are few. They resemble the scattering trees of a storm-swept plain. The great, and I presume --
good, White Chief sends us word that he wishes to buy our land but is willing to allow us enough to live comfortably. This indeed appears just, even
generous, for the Red Man no longer has rights that he need respect, and the offer may be wise, also, as we are no longer in need of an extensive
There was a time when our people covered the land as the waves of a wind-ruffled sea cover its shell-paved floor, but that time long since passed away
with the greatness of tribes that are now but a mournful memory. I will not dwell on, nor mourn over, our untimely decay, nor reproach my paleface
brothers with hastening it, as we too may have been somewhat to blame.
Youth is impulsive. When our young men grow angry at some real or imaginary wrong, and disfigure their faces with black paint, it denotes that their
hearts are black, and that they are often cruel and relentless, and our old men and old women are unable to restrain them. Thus it has ever been. Thus
it was when the white man began to push our forefathers ever westward. But let us hope that the hostilities between us may never return. We would have
everything to lose and nothing to gain. Revenge by young men is considered gain, even at the cost of their own lives, but old men who stay at home in
times of war, and mothers who have sons to lose, know better.
Our good father in Washington--for I presume he is now our father as well as yours, since King George has moved his boundaries further north--our
great and good father, I say, sends us word that if we do as he desires he will protect us. His brave warriors will be to us a bristling wall of
strength, and his wonderful ships of war will fill our harbors, so that our ancient enemies far to the northward -- the Haidas and Tsimshians -- will
cease to frighten our women, children, and old men. Then in reality he will be our father and we his children. But can that ever be? Your God is not
our God! Your God loves your people and hates mine! He folds his strong protecting arms lovingly about the paleface and leads him by the hand as a
father leads an infant son. But, He has forsaken His Red children, if they really are His. Our God, the Great Spirit, seems also to have forsaken us.
Your God makes your people wax stronger every day. Soon they will fill all the land. Our people are ebbing away like a rapidly receding tide that will
never return. The white man's God cannot love our people or He would protect them. They seem to be orphans who can look nowhere for help. How then
can we be brothers? How can your God become our God and renew our prosperity and awaken in us dreams of returning greatness? If we have a common
Heavenly Father He must be partial, for He came to His paleface children. We never saw Him. He gave you laws but had no word for His red children
whose teeming multitudes once filled this vast continent as stars fill the firmament. No; we are two distinct races with separate origins and separate
destinies. There is little in common between us.
To us the ashes of our ancestors are sacred and their resting place is hallowed ground. You wander far from the graves of your ancestors and seemingly
without regret. Your religion was written upon tablets of stone by the iron finger of your God so that you could not forget. The Red Man could never
comprehend or remember it. Our religion is the traditions of our ancestors -- the dreams of our old men, given them in solemn hours of the night by
the Great Spirit; and the visions of our sachems, and is written in the hearts of our people.
Your dead cease to love you and the land of their nativity as soon as they pass the portals of the tomb and wander away beyond the stars. They are
soon forgotten and never return. Our dead never forget this beautiful world that gave them being. They still love its verdant valleys, its murmuring
rivers, its magnificent mountains, sequestered vales and verdant lined lakes and bays, and ever yearn in tender fond affection over the lonely hearted
living, and often return from the happy hunting ground to visit, guide, console, and comfort them.
Day and night cannot dwell together. The Red Man has ever fled the approach of the White Man, as the morning mist flees before the morning sun.
However, your proposition seems fair and I think that my people will accept it and will retire to the reservation you offer them. Then we will dwell
apart in peace, for the words of the Great White Chief seem to be the words of nature speaking to my people out of dense darkness.
It matters little where we pass the remnant of our days. They will not be many. The Indian's night promises to be dark. Not a single star of hope
hovers above his horizon. Sad-voiced winds moan in the distance. Grim fate seems to be on the Red Man's trail, and wherever he will hear the
approaching footsteps of his fell destroyer and prepare stolidly to meet his doom, as does the wounded doe that hears the approaching footsteps of the