“And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.””
“…Yonder sky that has wept tears of compassion upon my people for centuries untold, and which to us appears changeless and eternal, may change. Today is fair. Tomorrow it may be overcast with clouds. My words are like the stars that never change. Whatever Seattle says the great chief at Washington can only reply upon with as much certainty as he can upon the return of the sun. The White Chief says that Big Chief at Washington sends us greetings of friendship and goodwill. This is kind of him for we know he has little need of our friendship in return. His people are many. They are like the grass that covers vast prairies. My people are few. They resemble the scattering trees of a storm-swept plain. The great, and I presume - good White Chief sends us word that he wishes to buy our lands 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, as we are no longer in need of an extensive country.
There was a time when our people covered the land as the waves of a wind-ruffled sea cover its shell-paved floor, but that time long since passed away with the greatness of tribes that are now but a mournful memory. I will not dwell on, nor mourn over, our untimely decay, nor reproach my pale face brothers with hastening it as we too may have been somewhat to blame.
Youth is impulsive. When our young men grow angry at some real or imaginary wrong, and disfigure their faces with black paint, it denotes that their hearts are black, and our old men and old women are unable to restrain them. Thus it was when the white men first began to push our forefathers further westward. But let us hope that the hostilities between us may never return. We would have everything to lose and nothing to gain.
Our good father at Washington - for I presume he is now our father as well as yours - our great and good father, I say, sends us word that if we do as he desires he will protect us. But can that ever be? Your God is not our God! Your God loves your people and hates mine. He folds his strong protecting arms lovingly about the pale face - but he has forsaken his red children - if they really are his. Our God, the Great Spirit, seems also to have forsaken us. Our people are ebbing away like a rapidly receding tide that will never return. How then can we be brothers? We are two distinct races with separate origins and separate destinies.
To us the ashes of our ancestors are sacred and their resting place is hallowed ground. You wander far from the graves of your ancestors and seemingly without regret. Your dead cease to love you and the land of your nativity as soon as they pass the portals of the tomb and wander away beyond the stars. Our dead never forget the beautiful world that gave them being…and often return to visit, guide, console, and comfort the lonely hearted living.
It matters little where we pass the remnant of our days. They will not be many. The Indians’ night promises to be dark. Not a single star of hope hovers above his horizon. Tribe follows tribe, and nation follows nation like the waves of the sea. It is the order of nature, and regret is useless. Your time of decay may be distant, but it will surely come, for even the white man whose God walked and talked with him as friend with friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We will see.
And when the Last Red Man shall have perished, these shores will swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe, and when your children’s children think themselves alone, they will not be alone. At night when you think your cities are deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful land. The White Man will never be alone.
Let him be just and deal kindly with my people, for the dead are not powerless.”
—Chief Seattle to Governor Isaac I. Stevens
It’s college you say? College??? It’s COLLEGE?!?!!!! COLLEGE!!!!!!! IT’S COLLEGE!!!!!