Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The earth is sacred to my people

When I was teenager, many moons ago, I had poster on the wall in my bedroom. Last night it popped up in a dream. I cannot recall the contents of the dream other than having a fond memory of what the words on the poster meant to me then, and still mean today. So, as part of my ongoing "quotation project", I am posting the speech from poster here... in it's entirety.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Chief Seattle, leader of the Suquamish and Duwamish tribes, from the U.S. pacific northwest (now Washington State). The year is 1855.

"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? 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? Every part of this earth is sacred to 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 and when he has conquered it he moves on. He leaves his fathers' graves and his children's birthright is forgotten. There is no quiet place in the white man's cities. No place to hear the leaves of spring or the rustle of insect 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 the whippoorwill or the arguments of the frog around the pond at night? 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 wires. Where is the eagle? Gone. Where is the buffalo? Gone. And what is it to say goodbye to the swift and the hunt, the end of living and the beginning of survival".

3 comments:

talandisjr said...

Nice reminder about the great power inherent within peace, quiet, and stillness.

Dion said...

That's a good speech, although there seems to be some uncertaintly of the historical accuracy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chief_Seattle

Regardless, the fact that we have to pay for both dirt and water is a sure sign of the downfall of society.

ML1959 said...

Historical Schmistorical. He was from Pandora and had a deep connection with Eywa. (I have this on good authority from my Avatar)