Chief Seattle's Speech

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  • Q1

    Where was the speech given by Chief Seattle? What does he want to convey through his speech?


    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 a 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.

    Hesays 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, theNative 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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  • Q2

    Read the extract below and answer the questions that follow-

    And when the last Red Man shall have perished, and the memory of my tribe shall have become a myth among the White Men, these shores will swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe, and when your children’s children think themselves alone in the field, the store, the shop, upon the highway, or in the silence of the pathless woods, they will not be alone. In all earth there is no place dedicated to solitude. At night when the streets of your cities and villages are silent and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful land. The White Man will never be alone.

    a. Why will the Red Man perish?(3x1=3)

    b. Explain the line- ‘these shores will swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe’. (3x1=3)

    c. Why will the white man’s generation never be alone?(3x1=3)

    d. What will happen when the white man’s streets are deserted?(3x1=3)

    e. How does the speaker eulogize his own culture?(4x1=4)


    a. The Red man will perish because they are already less in terms of population, and the White people have encroached upon their lands. They have nowhere to go, and hence will embrace death gradually.

    b. The line means that the Native Americans will die gradually, but their souls will remain on this land which they have loved for years. They will be alive in their culture, and the natural surroundings.

    c. The white man’s generation will never be alone, as the souls of the Native Americans shall accompany them wherever they go. The native people loved their land more than anyone else, and even if they physically do not exist, their hearts shall be there forever.

    d. When the white man’s streets are deserted, he won’t find himself alone. The souls of his loving people will be there at every nook and corner of the land. The white man shall never be alone.

    e. The speaker eulogizes his own culture by saying that his people love their land so much so that even if they do not exist physically, their souls will remain there to take care of the natural surroundings. The white man will never be alone, as even though the streets might look silent and desolate to them, they will be looked after by these heavenly souls.

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  • Q3

    Read the extract below and answer the questions that follow-

    A few more moons, a few more winters, and not one of the descendants of the mighty hosts that once moved over this broad land or lived in happy homes, protected by the Great Spirit, will remain to mourn over the graves of a people once more powerful and hopeful than yours. But why should I mourn at the untimely fate of my people? Tribe follows tribe, and nation follows nation, like the waves of the sea. It is the order of nature, and regret is useless. Your time of decay may be distant, but it will surely come, for even the White Man whose God walked and talked with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny.

    a. Why does the speaker think that regret is useless?(3x1=3)

    b. Why does he mourn over the fate of his people?(3x1=3)

    c. What is the difference in the lives of Native Americans then and now?(3x1=3)

    d. Were the Native Americans powerful people earlier?How can you say that?(3x1=3)

    e. What is meant by ‘common destiny’?(4x1=4)


    a. The speaker thinks that regret is useless because the world is ruled by different generations after a certain time, and every culture is doomed to perish. The speaker says that the white man’s time of decay may be far, but it is sure to come someday.

    b. The speaker mourns the fate of his people because they were once a powerful group, more hopeful than anyone else. Their number is now decreasing, and there is no hope that is left in them, other than to reconcile with the white man.

    c. The Native Americans once ruled the powerful land. Their rich culture was varied and they peacefully cohabited with each other. Now, their land has been seized by the white man and they have nowhere to go.

    d. Yes, the Native Americans were powerful people earlier. They ruled their land before the arrival of the white people. They had a rich culture and heritage and they are proud of it. Their traditions were passed on to them through their ancestors, whereas the white man’s religion was written on tablets of stone.

    e. Chief Seattle, here, wants to make a point that his people have dwindled in number. The white man, though is flourishing right now, will suffer the same fate as theirs. The world is constantly changing, and everyone who is born here, has to perish. Although the two cultures have different destinies altogether, in terms of death, both will share the same destiny sometime or the other.

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  • Q4

    Read the extract below and answer the questions that follow-

    The white man’s God cannot love our people or He would protect them. They seem to be orphans who can look nowhere for help. How then can we be brothers? How can your God become our God and renew our prosperity and awaken in us dreams of returning greatness? If we have a common Heavenly Father He must be partial, for He came to His paleface children. We never saw Him. He gave you laws but had no word for His red children whose teeming multitudes once filled this vast continent as stars fill the firmament. No; we are two distinct races with separate origins and separate destinies. There is little in common between us.

    (16 marks)

    a. Why does Chief Seattle think that the God of White man is biased towards the Native Americans?


    b. How are the destinies of Native Americans and White people different from each other?


    c. What does Chief Seattle say about their God?


    d. How are the Native Americans deprived by their God?


    e. Write a short summary of the above extract.



    a. Chief Seattle thinks that the God of the White man is biased towards the Native Americans because He loves his people, and hates the Native Americans. He wants the white people to flourish, and if He loved the Native Americans, He would have protected their culture.

    b. The destinies of the Native Americans and the White Men are different from each other as the Native Americans are dwindling in number, and the White men are flourishing. Their cultures, and origins are different, and they can never be one.

    c. Chief Seattle says that the God of the Native Americans is biased towards his people. He does not care about them. If He had protected them, then their number wouldn’t have been decreasing. His people have become orphans who can look nowhere for help.

    d. The Native Americans are deprived by their God because He clearly does not protect them. If He had done so, their population wouldn’t have decreased. Their culture is trampled upon by the White man, and they hardly have any rights.

    e. Chief Seattle says that the White man’s God is biased towards his people. He only loves his men. If He had loved the Native Americans, then He would have protected them. He says that if they have a common Heavenly Father, then he definitely is partial. He has given the white men laws as religions, but to the Native Americans, he hasgiven no word. They are two distinct races and have different destinies.

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