JOSEPH CAMPBELL & THE LETTER OF CHIEF SEATTLE (1855)

JOSEPH CAMPBELL & THE LETTER OF CHIEF SEATTLE (1855)
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FOREWORD

“As a wanderer and traveler who crosses this great country East to West, North and South, meeting and encountering so many belief systems, faiths and religions, this text by Seattle Native American Chief from 1855, resonate with me more than any religious scripture I have ever read, and the narrator, Prof. Joseph Campbell’s outlook on life, as described in the phenomenal PBS special series “Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth” from 1987, explains more accurately than any spiritual teachings I’ve met, that which we call God.” ~ Lior Vaknin

INTRODUCTION

In 1854, President of the United States Franklin Pierce made an offer for a large area of Indian land and promised a ‘reservation’ for the Indian people.

Chief Seattle’s reply, reproduced here in full, has been described as the most beautiful and profound statement on the environment ever made!

 

“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.

Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, all are holy in the memory and experience of my people.

We are part of the earth and it is part of us.

Perfumed flowers are our sisters; the bear, the deer, the great eagle – these are our brothers.
Each ghostly reflection in the clear water of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people. The water murmurs with the voice of my father’s father. The rivers are our brothers. They carry our canoes and feed our children.

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 is supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also receives his last sigh. 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.

Your destiny is a mystery to us.

What will have happen when the buffalo are all slaughtered. 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 by talking wires? The end of living and the beginning of survival.

When the last red man has vanished with his 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 land as a newborn loves his 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 have receive it. Preserve the land for all children and love it as god loves us all.

One thing we know; there is only one god. No man, be he red man or white, can be apart.

We are brothers after all.”

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