Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect. Chief Seattle

 Chief Seattle is one of the most well known Native Americans in the Northwest, not only for leading in battle, but for working to coexist with the newcomers, his ability as an orator, and because the largest city in the Pacific Northwest carries his name. His name in the Lushootseed language, the language of his people, was Si?al, or Sealth. From that pronunciation the word “Seattle” came.

The precise date of his birth is unknown, but he was thought to be about 80 when he died on June 7, 1866, thus making his birth year around 1786. He was born near Blake Island close to where Seattle, Washington now stands. His father was a leader of the Suquamish Tribe, which inhabited the area across Puget Sound from today’s Seattle. His mother was Sholitza, a Duwamish tribal member.

He was large for a Native of the Puget Sound area, standing nearly six feet tall. White traders called him Le Gros, meaning Big One. Dr. Frasier Tolmie with the Hudson Bay Company described him in 1832 as “the handsomest Indian I have ever seen.” His other outstanding characteristic was his loud voice. He was an orator and could hold the attention of an audience. It was this combination for which he was known.

Historians talk of a speech Chief Seattle gave in 1854; a speech that made him famous. The precise words will never be known, as there were no recordings. He spoke in the Lushootseed language, that was translated into the Chinook language, and from there into English. Obviously his exact words were lost in the translation, but his ideas were clear.

Some of the phrases, as translators voiced them, are inspiring. “The rivers are our brothers. The air is precious for all things share the same breath. The earth does not belong to man. Man belongs to the earth. If we sell you our land, love it as we have loved it. Care for it as we have cared for it. We may be brothers after all.”

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 that 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. Chief Seattle

"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? Every part of the Earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clear and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people.The perfumed flowers are our sisters, the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the juices in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and the man, all belong to the same family. Chief Seattle

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