Let’s Talk About….. Two Chief’s Speeches

 In April 2023, I was blessed to take a deep dive into the history, geography, geology and culture of the far northeast corner of America,  the Canadian Maritimes and the St. Lawrence River and Seaway. Con su permisio, as they say in Spanish, I would like to share with you some of what I learned in these blog posts over the next couple of months. Hope you benefit and enjoy!

Some things have never changed throughout history; this is a sad-story truth. Two speeches, by two First Nations chiefs, separated by 3000 miles, reflect the same sentiment. (Seattle on the top.) In 1871, Chief Sweetgrass, a Cree, responded to Lt. Gov. Archibald regarding a treaty: “Great Father, I shake hands with you and big you welcome. We heard out lands were sold and we did not like it; we don’t want to sell our lands; it is our property and no one has the right to sell them. We want you to stop the Americans from coming to trade in our lands and bringing firewater.”

Everybody conveniently forgot a 1763 Royal Proclamation: “Lands which not having been ceded to or purchased by us, are still reserved for the Indians.” 

In 1854, Chief Seattle, Duwamish tribe, spoke these words (the full speech printed out on four pages): “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 extensive country.”

Chief Seattle’s words continue:  “Your God is not our God! Your God loves white people and hates mine! He folds his strong protecting arms lovingly about the paleface and leads him by the hand…. but he has forsaken his red children, if they are really 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 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.”

 How can we not be moved to better empathy and understanding by these words??

One comment on “Let’s Talk About….. Two Chief’s Speeches

  1. I heard a quote recently: “empathy is the ability to understand that another person’s reality is just as real as yours.”

    Easy to say, but it takes effort to put it into practice.

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