The great Chief in Washington sends word
that he wants to buy our land. The Great Chief also sends us words of
friendship and good will. This is kind of him, since we know that he has
little need of our friendship in return. But we will consider your
offer. For we know that if we do not sell, the white man may come with
guns and take our land.
How can you buy or sell
the sky, the warmth of 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
Every part of the earth
is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore,
every mist in the dark woods, every humming insect is holy in the memory
and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees
carries memories of the red man. So when the Great Chief in Washington
sends word he wishes to buy our land, he asks much of us.
Whatever befalls the
earth befalls the sons of 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. But we will consider your offer to go to the reservation you
have for my people. We will live apart, and in peace.
It matters little where we spend the rest of
our days. Our children have seen their fathers humbled in defeat. Our
warriors have felt shame, and after defeat they turn their days in
idleness and contaminate their bodies with sweet foods and strong
drinks. It matters little where we spend the rest of our days. They are
A few hours, a few more winters, and none of the great tribes
that once lived on this earth or that roam now in small bands in the
woods will be left to mourn the graves of a people once as powerful and
hopeful as yours.
But why should I mourn the passing of my people?
Tribes are made of men, nothing more. Men come and go, like waves of the
sea. Even the white man, whose God walks and talks with him as friend to
friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny.
One thing we know, which the white man may
one day discover - our God is the same God. You may think now that you
own Him as you wish to own our land: but you cannot. He is the God of
man; and his compassion is the same for the red man and the white.
earth is precious to Him, and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on
its Creator. The whites too, shall pass; perhaps sooner than all the
other tribes. Continue to contaminate your bed and you will one night
suffocate in your own waste.
But in perishing, you
will shine brightly, fired by the strength of the God who brought you to
this land and for some special purpose gave you dominion over this land
and over the red man. That destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not
understand when the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses are
tamed, and the view of the ripe hills blotted by the talking wires.
Where is the eagle? Gone. And what is it to say goodbye to the swift
pony and the hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival. So
we will consider your offer to buy our land.
If we agree, it will be
to secure the reservation you have promised. There, perhaps, we may live
out our brief days as we wish. When the last red man has vanished from
this earth, and his memory is only a shadow of a cloud moving across the
prairie, these shores and forests will still hold the spirits of my
people. For they love this earth as a newborn loves its mother's
So if we sell our land, love it as we have loved it.
Hold in your mind the memory of the land as it is when you take it. And
love it with all your strength, with all your mind, with all your heart,
preserve it for your children, and love it ...as God loves us all. One
thing we know. Our God is the same God. This earth is precious to Him.
Even the white man cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be
brothers after all. We shall see...
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