Friday, August 11, 2006

Nature's Child

I'm a big nature lover. Not in the conventional sense. I don't know much about nature in terms of specifics but I love being outdoors, looking at the sky, the hills, the rain, the trees, grass (the real stuff!), birds, wildlife, the ocean... all of it. I'm reading this book on Sufism and I found this amazing letter believed to be written by Chief Seattle, one of the last spokesmen of the Native Americans, to the then President of the United States, George Washington who wanted to buy their tribal land. It's kind of long but if you have patience, I'm sure you will be touched. Here goes...

The President in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. But how can buy or sell the sky? The land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?

Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect. All are holy in the memory and experience of my people.

We know the sap which courses through the trees as we know the blood that courses through our veins. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters. The bear, the deer, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the juices in the meadow, the body beat of the pony, and man all belong to the same family.

The shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water, but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you our land, you must remeber that it is sacred. Each ghostly reflection in the clear waters of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people. The water's murmur is the voice of my father's father.

The rivers are our brothers. They quench our thirst. They carry our canoes and feed our children. So you must give to the rivers the kindness you would give to any brother.

If we sell you our land, remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also recieves his last sigh. The wind also gives our children the spirit of life. So if we sell you our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where man can go and taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow flowers.

Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother? What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of earth.

This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. 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.

One thing we know: our god is also your god. The earth is precious to him and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator.

Your destiny is a mystery to us. What will happen when the buffalo are slaughtered? The wild horses tamed? What will happen when the secret corners of the forest are heavy with the scent of many men and the view of the ripe hills is blotted by talking wires? Where will the thicket be? Gone! Where will the eagle be? Gone! And what is it to say goodbye to the swift ppony and the hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival.

When the last Red man has vanished with his wilderness and his memory is only athe shadow of a cloud moving across the prairie, will the shores and forests still be there? Will there be any spirit of my people left?

We love this earth as a new-born loves its mother's heartbeat. So, if we sell you our land, love it as we have loved it. Care for it as we have cared for it. Hold in your mind the memory of the land as it is when oyu receive it. Preserve the land for all children and love it, as God loves us all.

As we are part of the land, you too are part of the land. This earth is precious to us. IT is also precious to you. One thing we know: there is only one God. No man, be he Red or White Man can be apart. We are brothers after all.


I have yet to read something in which man speaks more respectuflly and lovingly of Mother Nature. And we should all be grateful for being one of Nature's children.


haathi said...

its brilliantly put. i have goose flesh from just reading it.

we had parts this letter quoted to us only a million times over, all through 3rd year. and this poetry teacher, boring as a sack of potatoes, had a stock bank of a grand total of THREE reference pieces of literature. ts eliots hollow men, something else and chief seattles "speech" (As he called it). and somehow i NEVER got down to reading it in college...all through 3rd year.

glad you posted it. because i read it and i loved it.

Ajeya said...

It is isn't it? Gives me goosies too!

Wish your teacher had read the 'speech' out for you :-D

Most happy you liked it :)