We Have Always Been “All in This Together”
Chief Seattle, chief of the Duwamish, Suquamish, and allied Indian tribes, was a member of the First Nation of North America. In 1854, President Franklin Pierce was pressuring Chief Seattle to sell his people’s land to the US government. After much consideration, Chief Seattle responded to the offer to purchase in what is now called “Chief Seattle’s Letter.”
The letter was originally delivered at a gathering as an oral statement from the Chief. It was then translated into another Native American language before arriving in its first English form. Since its original publication in 1887, the wording has been modified several times. There are many different versions of the letter.
While the text has been wordsmithed over the years, the message remains as poignant and clear as when it was first spoken. No matter what version I have seen of Chief Seattle’s Letter, I am always affected the same way: I come to a full stop and realize how we are all connected in so many ways.
Every now and then we are afforded the opportunity to read the letter with a fresh set of eyes, and it makes sense in a new way. This is one of those times.
I am referring to this one paragraph in particular from Chief Seattle’s letter. You may have seen it. “Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves. This we know: the earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood that unites one family. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. 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.” https://www.redlineartworks.org/section718887.html
In this time of climate change, global pandemic, social unrest, political mistrust, and the stark contrast between advantaged and disadvantaged populations, it is worth remembering Chief Seattle’s words. After rereading his letter, I find myself looking in the mirror, saying these words: “We are all connected. We have always been all in this together. It is foolishness to think otherwise. Keep the Earth, the Air, the Waters, All Animals, and Humans in mind. We are All In This Together. Always have been. All the time, every day. Remember and act accordingly.”
See the oldest known version of Seattle’s Letter here. Number Ten, Scraps from a Diary: Chief Seattle – A Gentleman by Instinct – His Native Eloquence, Etc., Etc.
Transcribed verbatim from The Seattle Sunday Star. October 29, 1887
See a well-known version of Seattle’s Letter here https://www.alexrovira.com/en/sensaciones/articulo/carta-del-jefe-indio-seattle