A message from 1854

The following are some paragraphs from a speech reportedly given native Indian, Chief Seattle, in 1854 responding to a letter from President Pierce who wanted to buy native Indian lands.

The very last sentence is the one that strikes a chord:

“How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?

You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the Earth is rich with the lives of our kin. 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 like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.¬†Whatever befalls the Earth – befalls the sons of the Earth. 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.”