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"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 air, the sparkle of 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 wood, every meadow, every humming insect. All are holy in the memory and experience of my people.

We know the sap which courses through the trees as we know our 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 and the eagles, are our brothers. The rocky crest, the dew in the meadow, the heat of the pony and man all belong to the same family.

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 fathers 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 supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also 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 earth. 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 ting 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 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 the hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival.

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 people left?

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 loves us.

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."

This letter is supposedly a letter written to the United States government by Chief Sealth, better know as Chief Seattle.

When I first read the letter, it was presented to me as fact that Chief Seattle had written this letter addressed to the President. I marveled at those words, I dropped my jaw in amazement at how we ignored his pleas, I was mystified by how they could not understand ownership, and how we seemingly couldn't understand brotherhood.

There is no physical evidence of this letter ever existing. Perhaps Seattle did not write it, it remains a controversy just as his famous speech of brother hood and peace with the White man remains under controversy. Perhaps he never wrote or said the great and powerful words that are attributed to him. If that is the case, it is understandable why they have been attributed to him. These words support Seattle's actions.

Seattle was born of a great chief of the Suquamish tribe and his mother from the Duwamish tribe. He grew up to be a fierce warrior himself, and this directly led to he himself becoming a powerful and respected chief. While the neighboring tribes all banded together to fight the White man, Seattle instead forged and alliance with them recognizing that fighting the White man head to head was a losing proposition. The great warrior chief, was a chief, the leader of his people and instead of fighting as warriors will, he forged a path of peace and in doings so protected his people who have prospered as a tribe to this day.

This is the way the story was first told to me. Subsequent stories, controversies and historical accounts do not matter. I was captivated of the Chief Sealth of that original story, and he remains my favorite famous American.

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