Chief Seattle Reading

A reading adapted from the words of Chief Seattle

In 1855, U.S. President Franklin Pierce asked Chief Seattle, of the Duwamish tribe,
if his land could be purchased. The Chief wrote a letter in response. These are
excerpts from that letter.

“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? We will decide in our time. 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 …

And what is there to life if one cannot hear the lovely cry of the whippoorwill or
the arguments of the frogs around a pond at night? The Indian prefers the soft
sound of the wind itself cleansed by a mid-day rain or scented by a pinõn pine:
The air is precious to the redman. For all things share the same breath – the
beasts, the trees, and the man …

If all the beasts were gone, humans would die from great loneliness of spirit, for
whatever happens to the beast also happens to the them …
All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons and
daughters of the earth. One thing we know that the white man may one day
discover. Our God is the same God. You may think that you own God as you wish
to own our land, but you cannot. God is the Body of humankind whose
compassion is equal for the redman and the white. This earth is precious to God,
and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its Creator …

If we sell you our land, love it as we have loved it. Care for it as we have cared for
it. Hold in your memory the way the land is as you take it. And with all your
strength, with all your might, and 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. This earth is precious to him. Even the white man cannot escape the
common destiny.

Adapted from the words of Chief Seattle