I've been re-reading Joseph Campbell, who includes Chief Seattle's beautiful letter to the American government is his book "The Power of Myth." Chief Seattle's words are really worth reading again. And again.
"The President in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land.
But how can you buy or sell the sky? 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 meadow,
every humming insect. All are holy in the memory and experience of my
We know the sap which courses through the trees as we know the blood
that courses through our veins. We are part of the earth and it is part
of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters. The bear, the deer, the
great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the dew in the
meadow, the body heat of the pony, and man all belong to the same
The shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just
water, but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you our land, you must
remember that it is sacred. Each glossy reflection in the clear waters
of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people. The
water's murmur is the voice of my father's father.
The rivers are our brothers. They quench our thirst. They carry our
canoes and feed our children. So you must give the rivers the kindness
that you would give any brother.
If we sell you our land, remember that the air is precious to us, that
the air shares its spirit with all the life that it supports. The wind
that gave our grandfather his first breath also received his last sigh.
The wind also gives our children the spirit of life. So if we sell our
land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where man can go to
taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow flowers.
Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the
earth is our mother? What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the
This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the
earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. 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.
One thing we know: our God is also your God. The earth is precious to
him and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator.
Your destiny is a mystery to us. What will happen when the buffalo are
all slaughtered? The wild horses tamed? What will happen when the secret
corners of the forest are heavy with the scent of many men and the view
of the ripe hills is blotted with talking wires? Where will the thicket
be? Gone! Where will the eagle be? Gone! And what is to say goodbye to
the swift pony and then hunt? The end of living and the beginning of
When the last red man has vanished with this wilderness, and his memory
is only the shadow of a cloud moving across the prairie, will these
shores and forests still be here? Will there be any of the spirit of my
We love this earth as a newborn loves its mother's heartbeat. So, 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 mind the memory of the land as it is when you
receive it. Preserve the land for all children, and love it, as God
As we are part of the land, you too are part of the land. This earth is precious to us. It is also precious to you.
One thing we know - there is only one God. No man, be he Red man or White man, can be apart. We ARE all brothers after all."