The 1854 Prophetic Words of First Nation (U.S.A.) Chief Seattle, and their relevance to YOU!
The following is a speech by so-called ‘Red Indian’ Chief Seattle, in response to the demand that he sell his people’s land! Over 150 years later it still has relevance as First Nation peoples throughout the world, struggle with mining & oil companies, cattle developers, prawn farmers, palm oil growers, logging companies, and multi-nationals. We urge you to pay attention to the parts we have emboldened which demonstrate that this Chief is as much a Prophet, and Great Teacher, as others who go by this name: significantly, his words also draw attention to the 3 Divine Principles upon which our movement is founded. The speech is preserved in the Washington archives:
“The Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. The Great Chief also sends us words of friendship and goodwill. This is kind of him since we know he has little need of our friendship in return, but we will consider your offer. For we know that if we do not sell, the White Man may come with guns and take our land. But how can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us – we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water so how can you buy them?
“Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing, and every 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. The White Man’s dead forget the country of their birth when they go to walk among the stars. Our dead never forget this beautiful earth for it is the Mother of the Red Man. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfume and air are our sisters, the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, and the juices in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, these things all belong to the same family. So when the Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land, it means much to us.
“The Great Chief sends word he will reserve us a place so that we can live together. He will be our father and we will be his children. So we will consider your offer to buy our land. But it will not be easy, for the land is sacred to us. The shining water that moves in the streams and the rivers is not just water but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you land you must remember that it is sacred; and you must teach you children that the rivers are our brothers, and yours; and you must henceforth give the rivers the kindness you would give any brother.
“The Red Man has always retreated before the advancing white man, as the mists of the mountain runs before the morning sun; but the ashes of our fathers are sacred. Their graves are holy ground, and so these hills, these trees, this portion of the earth is consecrated to us. We know that the White Man does not 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 moves on. He leaves his father’s grave behind, and he does not care. He kidnaps the earth from his children. He does not care. His father’s graves and his children’s birthright are forgotten. 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 a desert.
“I do not know – our ways are different from your ways – the sight of your cities pains the eyes of the Red Man. Perhaps it is because the Red Man is a savage and does not understand?
“There is no quiet place in the White Man’s cities. No place to hear the unfurling of leaves in spring, or the rustle of an insect’s wings. But perhaps it is 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 lonely cry of the whip-poor will, or the arguments of the frogs around a pond at night? I am only a Red Man and do not understand!
“The Indians prefer the soft sound of the wind darting over the face of a pond, and the smell of the wind itself, cleansed by midday rain, or scented with the pine-on-pine. 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 does not seem to notice the air he breathes. Like a man dying for many days, he is numb to the stench. But if we sell you our land, you must remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also receives his last sigh. And the wind must also give our children the spirit of life. And if we give you our land you must keep it apart and sacred as a place where the White Man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadows flowers.
“So we will consider your offer to buy our land. And if we decide to accept, I will make one condition: the White Man must treat the beasts of this land as his brothers. I am a savage and I do not understand any other way! I have seen a thousand rotting buffaloes 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 man without the beast? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from a great loneliness of the spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts soon happens to man. All things are connected.
“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!
“But we will consider your offer to go to the reservation you have for my people. We will live apart, and in peace. It matters little where we spend the rest of our days. Our children have seen their fathers humbled in defeat. Our warriors have felt shame and after defeat they turn their days in idleness and contaminate their bodies with sweet foods and strong drink. It matters little where we pass the rest of our days, they are not many. A few hours, a few more winters and none of the children of the great tribes that once lived on the earth, or that now roam in small bands in the woods, will be left to mourn the graves of a people once as powerful and hopeful as yours. But why should we mourn the passing of my people? Tribes are made of men, nothing more. Men come and go, like the waves of the sea.
“Even the White Man, whose God walks and talks with him as friend to friend cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all: we shall see. One thing we know which 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 Man, and His Compassion is equal for the Red man and the White Man. This earth is precious to us, and to bring harm to the earth is to bring shame to its Creator. The Whites too shall pass – perhaps sooner than all other tribes. 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, and for some special purpose gave dominion over this land, and over the Red Man. That destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not understand when the buffaloes are slaughtered, the wild horses 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 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!
“So we will consider your offer to buy our land. If we agree, it will be to secure the protection you have promised. There, perhaps we may live out our brief days as we wish. When the last red man has vanished from the earth, and his memory is only the shadow of a cloud moving across the prairie, these shores and forests will still hold the spirits of my people. For they love this earth as the newborn loves its mother’s heartbeat.
“So if we sell this 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 mind, 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. This earth is precious to Him. Even the White Man cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all – we shall see!”
* This parallels the instruction given by Moses to the tribes of Israel (c 1,300 B.C.E.) as recorded in the Bible in Deuteronomy 6: 5-7.
The Rainbow after which our International Trust is named, is a symbol of a holistic (with nature, each other, and ourselves) Peace that can only to be achieved by acting in conjunction with the Creator, as related in the Bible (Genesis 9:8-17), and found all over the world including Hawaii, and a prehistoric cave site in Spain (c 4,500 B.C.E.). The Cree nation prophecy regarding the coming of the Rainbow Warriors, as quoted in our introduction, is also a Cherokee, Hopi, Sioux, and Zuni, prophecy. If you wish to become part of its fulfilment, join with us. You can start by contacting us by clicking here.