Chief Seattle's Speech

Chief Seattle’s speech brings forward the issue of respect for the Native American culture and land rights. He also strongly promoted a sense of responsibility towards one’s environment. However, the speech that he delivered has been tampered with many times, and the actual version has been lost to the present generation.

The speech was presented at the time of a visit to the council of local tribal chiefs, by Isaac Stevens- the first governor of Washington.
The oldest record of this speech is the one published in the Seattle Sunday Star in 1887, in a column by Henry. A. Smith. He was a poet, doctor, and an early settler in the area of Seattle.

The speech was given by Chief Seattle at the time of a visit to the council of local tribal chiefs, by Isaac Stevens- the first governor of Washington. Through his speech, he recollects the bitterness that once existed between the White people and the Native Americans, and wants reconciliation between the two. However, he does not want it at the cost of his people and their land. He promises that his people will accept the white man’s rule with respect, but also puts forward a condition that they shall be free to visit the graves of their ancestors.
He describes his land which has been providing and protecting the Native Americans all through the years. It has always appeared to his people as ‘changeless and eternal’. However, this situation is on the verge of transformation.
He says that young people are prone to aggression. They would want to take revenge on the White people, but the older generation is wise and would never want to get into any hostility.
He feels that God of the White people is biased, and hates the Native Americans. His own God has also abandoned them. His people have become orphans who can look nowhere for help. They are decreasing in number and will soon perish.
He says that the religion of his people is the traditions of their ancestors, and the dreams of their old men. The white man’s dead cease to love their people and the land of their nativity as soon as they die. But, the Native Americans never forget this beautiful world, even when they die.
He addresses the White people saying that he would think over their proposition and then decide what to do. If he accepts it, his people should not be denied the privilege of visiting the tombs of their ancestors, friends, and children.

 

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