Version 1 (below) appeared in the Seattle Sunday Star on Oct. 29, 1887, in a column by Dr. Henry A. Smith.
"CHIEF SEATTLE'S 1854 ORATION" - ver . 1
AUTHENTIC TEXT OF CHIEF SEATTLE'S TREATY ORATION 1854
Yonder sky that has wept tears of compassion upon my people for centuries untold, and which to us appears changeless and eternal, may change. Today is fair. Tomorrow it may be overcast with clouds. My words are like the stars that never change. Whatever Seattle says, the great chief at Washington can rely upon with as much certainty as he can upon the return of the sun or the seasons. The white chief says that Big Chief at Washington sends us greetings of friendship and goodwill. This is kind of him for we know he has little need of our friendship in return. His people are many. They are like the grass that covers vast prairies. My people are few. They resemble the scattering trees of a storm-swept plain. The great, and I presume -- good, White Chief sends us word that he wishes to buy our land but is willing to allow us enough to live comfortably. This indeed appears just, even generous, for the Red Man no longer has rights that he need respect, and the offer may be wise, also, as we are no longer in need of an extensive country.
There was a time when our people covered the land as the waves of a wind-ruffled sea cover its shell-paved floor, but that time long since passed away with the greatness of tribes that are now but a mournful memory. I will not dwell on, nor mourn over, our untimely decay, nor reproach my paleface brothers with hastening it, as we too may have been somewhat to blame.
Youth is impulsive. When our young men grow angry at some real or imaginary wrong, and disfigure their faces with black paint, it denotes that their hearts are black, and that they are often cruel and relentless, and our old men and old women are unable to restrain them. Thus it has ever been. Thus it was when the white man began to push our forefathers ever westward. But let us hope that the hostilities between us may never return. We would have everything to lose and nothing to gain. Revenge by young men is considered gain, even at the cost of their own lives, but old men who stay at home in times of war, and mothers who have sons to lose, know better.
Our good father in Washington--for I presume he is now our father as well as yours, since King George has moved his boundaries further north--our great and good father, I say, sends us word that if we do as he desires he will protect us. His brave warriors will be to us a bristling wall of strength, and his wonderful ships of war will fill our harbors, so that our ancient enemies far to the northward -- the Haidas and Tsimshians -- will cease to frighten our women, children, and old men. Then in reality he will be our father and we his children. But can that ever be? Your God is not our God! Your God loves your people and hates mine! He folds his strong protecting arms lovingly about the paleface and leads him by the hand as a father leads an infant son. But, He has forsaken His Red children, if they really are His. Our God, the Great Spirit, seems also to have forsaken us. Your God makes your people wax stronger every day. Soon they will fill all the land. Our people are ebbing away like a rapidly receding tide that will never return. 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.
To us the ashes of our ancestors are sacred and their resting place is hallowed ground. You wander far from the graves of your ancestors and seemingly without regret. Your religion was written upon tablets of stone by the iron finger of your God so that you could not forget. The Red Man could never comprehend or remember it. Our religion is the traditions of our ancestors -- the dreams of our old men, given them in solemn hours of the night by the Great Spirit; and the visions of our sachems, and is written in the hearts of our people.
Your dead cease to love you and the land of their nativity as soon as they pass the portals of the tomb and wander away beyond the stars. They are soon forgotten and never return. Our dead never forget this beautiful world that gave them being. They still love its verdant valleys, its murmuring rivers, its magnificent mountains, sequestered vales and verdant lined lakes and bays, and ever yearn in tender fond affection over the lonely hearted living, and often return from the happy hunting ground to visit, guide, console, and comfort them.
Day and night cannot dwell together. The Red Man has ever fled the approach of the White Man, as the morning mist flees before the morning sun. However, your proposition seems fair and I think that my people will accept it and will retire to the reservation you offer them. Then we will dwell apart in peace, for the words of the Great White Chief seem to be the words of nature speaking to my people out of dense darkness.
It matters little where we pass the remnant of our days. They will not be many. The Indian's night promises to be dark. Not a single star of hope hovers above his horizon. Sad-voiced winds moan in the distance. Grim fate seems to be on the Red Man's trail, and wherever he will hear the approaching footsteps of his fell destroyer and prepare stolidly to meet his doom, as does the wounded doe that hears the approaching footsteps of the hunter.
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. We may be brothers after all. We will see.
We will ponder your proposition and when we decide we will let you know. But should we accept it, I here and now make this condition that we will not be denied the privilege without molestation of visiting at any time the tombs of our ancestors, friends, and children. Every part of this soil is sacred in the estimation of my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove, has been hallowed by some sad or happy event in days long vanished. Even the rocks, which seem to be dumb and dead as the swelter in the sun along the silent shore, thrill with memories of stirring events connected with the lives of my people, and the very dust upon which you now stand responds more lovingly to their footsteps than yours, because it is rich with the blood of our ancestors, and our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch. Our departed braves, fond mothers, glad, happy hearted maidens, and even the little children who lived here and rejoiced here for a brief season, will love these somber solitudes and at eventide they greet shadowy returning spirits. 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 the 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.
Let him be just and deal kindly with my people, for the dead are not powerless. Dead, did I say? There is no death, only a change of worlds.
A Message to Washington from Chief Seatle
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 this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The very sap which courses through the tree carries the memory of the red man. We are part of the earth and it is part of us.
The perfumed flowers are our sisters, the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers. So when the great chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to bur our land, he asks much of us. The great chief sends word he will reserve us a place so we can live comfortably to ourselves. He will be our father and we will be his children.
So, we will consider your offer to buy our land. But it will not be easy, for this land is sacred to us. The shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water, but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you land, you must teach your children that it is sacred and that the ghostly reflection in the clear water 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.
If we sell you land, you must remember to teach your children that the rivers are our brothers, and yours, and you must henceforth give the rivers the kindness you would give any brother.
We know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of the land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs. The earth is not his brother, but his enemy, and when he has conquered it, he moves on. He leaves his father�s graves behind, and he does not care. His father�s graves and his children�s birthrights are forgotten. He treats his mother, the earth, and his brother, the sky, as things to be bought, plundered, sold, like sheep or bright beads. His appetite will devour the earth and leave behind only desert.
There is no quiet place in the white man�s cities. No place to hear the unfurling of leaves in the spring, or the rustle of an insect�s wings. The clatter only seems to insult the ears. And, what is there to life if man cannot hear the lonely cry of the whippoorwill or the arguments of the frogs around a pond at night? The Indian prefers the soft sound of wind darting over the face of the pond, and the smell of the wind, itself cleaned by a midday rain, or scented with pinion pine.
The air is precious to the red man, for all things, the beasts and man, they all share the same breath. The white man does not seem to notice the air he breathes. Like a man dying, for many days, he is numb to the stench. You must remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all life it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also receives his last sigh. And if we sell you our land, you must keep it apart and sacred as a place where even the white man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow�s flowers.
So we consider your offer to buy our land. If we decide to accept, I make one condition: the white man must treat the beasts of this land as his brothers. I have seen a thousand rotting buffalo on the prairie, left by the white man who shot them from a passing train. I am a savage and do not understand how the smoking iron horse can be more important than the buffalo that we kill only to stay alive.
What is man without beasts? If all the beasts are gone, man would die from a great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.
Teach your children what we have taught our children � that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth soon befalls the sons of earth. If men spit on the ground, they spit on themselves. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand of it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.
Even the white man, whose God walks and talks with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We shall see. One thing we know, which the white man may someday discover, our God is the same God. You may think that you own Him, as you wish to own our land, but you cannot. He is the God of man, and his compassion is equal for the red man and the white. The earth is precious to Him, and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its Creator. The whites too, shall pass, perhaps sooner than all other tribes. Contaminate your own bed and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.
But in perishing, you will shine brightly, fired by the strength of God, who brought you to this land and for some special purpose gave you dominion over this land and over the red man. That destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not understand when the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses are tamed, the sacred corners of the forest heavy with the scent of many men and the view of the hills blotted by talking wires. Where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the eagle? Gone. The end of living and the beginning of survival.