Saturday, 14 July 2007

I am a savage and I do not understand any other way

My dad got me this remarkable piece of writing:

1n 1834, the “Great White Chief” in Washington made an offer for a large area of Indian land and promised a “Reservation” for the Indian people. Chief Seattle’s reply, has been described as the most beautiful and profound statement on the environment ever made. Extracts are reproduced exclusively for you.

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 sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every 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 man-all belong to the same family. I am a savage and I do not understand any other way.

Our ways are different from your ways. The sight of your cities pains the eyes of the red man. 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. But perhaps it is because I am a savage and I do not understand any other way.

I have seen a thousand rotting buffaloes on the prairie, left by the white man who shot them from a passing train. I am a savage and I 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 the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. I am a savage and I do not understand any other way.

And what is there to life if a man cannot hear the lonely cry of the whippoorwill or the arguments of the frogs around a pond at night; or the soft sound of the wind darting over the face of a pond, and the smell of the wind itself, cleansed by the midday rain, or scented with the pinon pine .I am a red man and do not understand.

This shining water that moves in the rivers and streams is not just water but the blood of our ancestors. Every ghostly reflection in the clear water of the lakes, tells of events and memories in the life my people. The water’s murmur is the voice of my father’s father. The air is precious to the red man, for all things share the same breath-the beast, the tree, the man, they share the same breath. The air is precious to us, the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also receives his last sigh.

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 life of our kin. Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit on the ground, they spit upon themselves.

So when the Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land, he asks much of us…for this land is sacred to us.

This we know: The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. This we know: All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. Even the white man, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We shall see.

One thing we know, which the white man may one day discover-our God is the same God. You may think now that you own Him as you wish to own our land; but you cannot, because 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 that all other tribes. Contaminate your bed, and your will one night suffocate in your own waster. I am a savage and I do not understand any other way.

6 comments:

Attique said...

Somewhere I read that once the American supreme court gave a ruling in favour of red indians that all lands seized from them should be returned. The reply from government was that they were ready to hand over the lands, only if someone would make them.

Syra said...

make land-->thats implausible

Hira said...

"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?"

I am speechless......

This is the best thing out of all the nice ones on your blog... :)

"This we know: The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. This we know: All things are connected like the blood which unites one family."

Syra said...

I am glad you liked it :)

Attique said...

Clarification...
Supreme Court (to Government): Return all the lands that you've forcibly taken from Red Indians.
Government: Make us.

Syra said...

o, now i get it :) shukran (thanx in arabic)