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Brother Eagle, Sister Sky
A Speech By: Chief Seattle
Paintings By: Susan Jeffers
Published By: Scholastic Books
The origins of Chief Seattle's words are partly obscured by the mists of time. Some call his words a letter and some a speech. What is known is that Chief Seattle was a respected and peaceful leader of one of the Northwest Indian Nations. In the mid-1850's when the government in Washington, D.C., wanted to buy the lands of his exhausted and defeated people, he responded in his native tongue, with a natural eloquence stemming from his oral tradition.
His words were transcribed by Dr. Henry A. Smith, who knew him well, and that transcription was interpreted and rewritten more than once in this century. Joseph Campbell adapted and brought Chief Seattle's message to a wider audience with his appearances on Bill Moyers' PBS series and in the book The Power of Myth. I too have adapted Chief Seattle's message for Brother Eagle, Sister Sky. What matters is that Chief Seattle's words inspired---and continue to inspire---a most compelling truth: In our zeal to build and possess, we may lose all that we have.
We have come late to environmental awareness, but there was a thundering message delivered a century ago by many of the great Native American chiefs, among them Black Elk, Red Cloud, and Seattle.
To all of the Native American people, every creature and part of the earth was sacred; it was their belief that to waste or destroy nature and its wonders is to destroy life itself. Their words were not understood in their time. Now they haunt us. Now they have come true, and before it is too late we must listen...
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