“The Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land!”
How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? Every part of this Earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dogwoods, every clearing, and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the Red Man…
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, and when he has conquered it, he moves on. He leaves his fathers’ graves behind and he does not care.
He kidnaps the Earth from his children. He treats his mother, the Earth, and his brother, the Sky, as things to be bought, plundered, sold like sheep or bright beads. His appetite will devour the Earth and leave behind only desert.
There is no quiet place in the White Man’s cities…and what is there to life if a man cannot hear the lonely cry of the whippoorwill or the arguments of the frogs around a pond at night?
The air is precious to the Red Man, for all things share the same breath–the beast, the tree, the man–they all share the same breath.
The White Man must treat the beasts of this land as his brothers…I have seen a thousand rotting buffalo on the prairie 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 a man without the beast? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beast soon happens to man. All things are connected.
Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the Earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.
This we know. The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the Earth. This we know. All things are connected …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.
Continue to contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste. But in your perishing, you will shine brightly, fired by the strength of the God who brought you to this land for some special purpose–have you dominion over the land and over the Red Man.
That destiny is a mystery to us, for we do no understand when the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses are tamed, the secret corners of the forest–heavy with the scent of many men–and the view of the ripe hills is blotted by talking wires.
Where is the thicket gone? Where is the Eagle gone? And what is it to say goodbye to the swift pony and the hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival.”
Spoken in 1854, this reply from Chief Seattle, leader of the Suquamish Tribe, to the U.S. Government sums up the relationship between Man and Earth.