To Your Heart's Content

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Quote of the week #5: Chief Seattle

okay, this is a bit long but well worth the read. I gave this to my chinese students last semester when we had our environmental studies class and they were deeply moved (at least those who read it)And no, I haven't memorized it (yet)!

"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, 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 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 juices in the meadow, the body 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 ghostly 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 to the rivers the kindness 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 it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also receives his last sigh. The wind also gives our children the spirit of life. So if we sell you 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 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 they view of the ripe hills is blotted by talking wires? Where will the thicket be? Gone! Where will the eagle be? Gone! And what is it to say goodbye to the swift pony and the hunt? The end of living and 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 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 all.
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 brothers after all." —Chief Seattle's reply to US Government, 1852. Last spokesman of the Paleolithic moral order.


  • "hindi natin ipinamana sa ating mga anak ang ating lupain...hinihirap lang natin ito sa kanila...paano mo maari ang lupaing mas mahaba pa ang buhay kay sa buhay ng tao?"

    -tatay hari, the former chieftain of the aetas of maporak, who took me in his house

    (the aboce roughly translates to “Our children do not inherit from us this land; we simply are borrowing it from them. How can one own this land whose life is longer than a man’s?”)

    this may or may not relate to this post, but i was jsut reminded of this long forgotten line from my foster father, tatay hari...and i am glad that the memories are starting to resurface...

    By Blogger Rivafilia Estoque, at 6:23 AM, December 13, 2006  

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