In 1855, the then president of the United States, Franklin Pierce, made a "request" to the chief of the Suwamish Indian tribe, namedSeathl (See-ahth), (who lived on the site where washington state now stands), for him to sell his land to the Government of the United States. In response, chief Seathl sent the following letter to the president:
" The big boss in Washington sends the word that he wants to buy our land.
The big boss also sends words of friendship and goodwill.
This gesture is kind on his part because we know that he does not need our friendship.
But we will consider your request, because we know that if we do not do this, the white man will come with weapons to take away our land.
How can we buy or sell heaven or earth's heat?
This idea is strange to us.
We don't own the freshness of the air or the shimmer of the waters.
How can you buy them from us?
Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, the fogs in the dark forests, all the insects and birds are holy in the memory of my people.
We know that the Great White Man does not understand our way.
Part of this land is the same as the next one for him, because he is a stranger who comes from the night and takes from him everything he needs.
The earth is not his brother, but his enemy, and after conquering him, he goes on.
His greed will destroy our lands and leave behind him only a desert desert.
The sight of your cities causes pain to the eyes of the red man.
But maybe this is because the red man is just a wild man and does not understand.
If I decide to accept, I will put only one condition.
The white man must treat the animals of this earth as his brothers.
What is man without animals?
If all the animals perished, man would also die because of the spirit's lonelyness, because whatever happens to the animals happens to man.
One thing we know, which the white man might discover in a day: Our God is the same as yours.
You may think you own IT, just as you want to do with our land.
But you can't. He is the God of men.
And his compassion is equal for both the red man and the white man.
This earth is precious to Him.
And to harm the earth is to show contempt for its Creator.
White people will pass too – perhaps faster than other tribes.
Continue to contaminate your lands and you will wake up one night suffocated in your own rubbish.
When buffaloes will all be sacrificed, and the wild horses will be domesticated, when the sacred forest will be invaded by the footprints of the people, and the ridges of the hills will remain empty, then we will ask ourselves: where are the forests? Where is the Eagle? So what if we say goodbye to the hunt? This is the end of life and the beginning of death.
There is no quiet place in the cities of the white man.
No place where you can hear the rustling of leaves, spring or rustling of insect wings.
But maybe I'm a wild and I don't understand – the noise(city) doesn't make it suffle our ears.
And how can that life be called, if a man cannot hear the wonderful cry of the honey or the frog's by the lake in the middle of the night?
The red Indian prefers the gentle breeze of the wind cleansed by the rain at noon, or fragrant by the fresh aroma of pine.
Air is precious to the red man, because all beings share the same breath – animals, trees, and man.
The white man does not seem to notice the air he breathes.
Like a man dying for several days, he became insensitive to smell.
We could understand if we knew what the white man dreams of.
what he hopes to tell his children on long winter nights,
what visions will sadden in their minds so that they carry them on.
But we are wild. The dreams of the white man are hidden for us.
And because they're hidden, we're going to go our own way.
If we agree, it will mean protecting our reservation as promised.
Then maybe we will be able to live our days the way we want.
When the last red man disappears from the earth, and when his memory will be only the shadow of a cloud in the prairie sky, these shores and forests will still hold the spirit of our people, because they love this earth as a newborn loves the heartbeth of his mother.
If we will sell you our land, love it as we loved it,
take care of it, as we had, keep alive in your mind the memory of this earth, as it was when you received it and with all your might, with all your heart, keep it for your children and love it as God loves you in turn.
We know for sure one thing - your God is the same as ours.
The earth is precious to Him.
Even the white man cannot be spared from this common destiny."
(Letter offered for publication by the Government of the United States, on the occasion of the celebration of the bicentennial of the adoption of the Constitution of the United States of America)