The World of Chief Seattle: How Can One Sell the Air?


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The occasion of the speech was a visit by the newly appointed Governor, Isaac Stevens. The governor's visit to a council of local tribal chiefs that year is corroborated by the historical record.

Chief Seattle

However the date, the location, and the actual words of Chief Seattle's speech are disputed. There is a written record of a later meeting between Governor Stevens and Chief Seattle, taken by government interpreters at the Point Elliott Treaty signing on January 22, But the proceedings of this meeting bear no resemblance to the reminiscence that Dr. Smith recorded in According to Smith's recollection, Doc Maynard introduced Governor Stevens, who then briefly explained his mission, which was already well understood by all present.

Chief Seattle then rose to speak. He rested his hand upon the head of the much smaller Stevens, and declaimed with great dignity for an extended period. And Smith then presents a detailed translation of the speech. But recent scholarship questions the authenticity of Smith's version of the speech.

Chief Seattle most probably spoke in the Lushootseed language, and someone then translated his words into Chinook Jargon , a limited trading language, that a third person then translated into English. But Smith's English version is in a flowery Victorian prose, and Smith noted that he had recorded "but a fragment of his [Seattle's] speech".

Moreover, Smith's version of the speech does not square with the recollections of other witnesses; and as we have seen, Smith himself may not have been present as a witness. As a result of such discrepancies, staff of the National Archives in Washington, DC, concluded that the speech is most likely fiction.

However, a spokesperson for the Suquamish Nation has said that according to their traditions, Dr. Smith consulted the tribal elders numerous times before publishing his transcript of the speech in The elders apparently saw the notes Dr. Smith took while listening to the speech.

Smith's notes are no longer extant. They may have been lost in the Great Seattle Fire, when Smith's office burned down. Why, however, did Smith wait thirty years to publish his transcript of the speech? It seems most likely that Smith's reason for publishing the speech was political. Newly arrived immigrants were starting to overpower the original pioneers who had dominated local politics. There was a bitterly contested election, with one newspaper claiming these new immigrants wanted "the overthrow of our institutions, The first few subsequent versions can be briefly enumerated: in , Frederick James Grant's History of Seattle, Washington reprinted Smith's version.

In , Clarence B.

Chief Seattle Articles

That same year, John M. In the late s, a new era dawned in the fame of the speech and in its further modification.


  • CHIEF SEATTLE'S LETTER.
  • Chief Seattle!
  • Chief Seattle's Thoughts!
  • Chief Seattle's Letter to the American President, - Ascension Now.

This began with a series of articles by William Arrowsmith , a professor at the University of Texas, which revived interest in Seattle's speech. Arrowsmith had come across the speech in a collection of essays by the President of Washington State University.

Chief Seattle Speech

At the end of one of the essays, there were some quotes from Smith's version of Chief Seattle's speech. Arrowsmith said it read like prose from the Greek poet Pindar.

With interest aroused, he found the original source. After reading it, he decided to try improving Smith's version of the speech, by removing Victorian influences. Arrowsmith attempted to get a sense of how Chief Seattle might have spoken, and to establish some "likely perimeters of the language. But the massive fame of Chief Seattle's speech is probably due to a poster printed in , which shows a picture of Chief Seattle overlaid with words from his "letter" to "the president in Washington".

The words are in fact taken from Arrowsmith's version of the speech, but with further modifications such as the image of shooting buffalo from trains, and the line "The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. The poster was made to promote a movie called Home , an environmentalist movie produced for the Southern Baptist Radio and Television Commission. But Perry was not credited with this because, according to Perry, the producer thought the movie would seem more authentic if the text was attributed directly to Chief Seattle himself and not to a screenwriter.

I first heard a version of the text read by William Arrowsmith at the first Environmental Day celebration in I was there and heard him. He was a close friend.

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Arrowsmith's version hinted at how difficult it was for Seattle to understand the white man's attitude toward land, water, air, and animals. For the soundtrack for a documentary I had already proposed about the environment, I decided to write a new version, elaborating on and heightening what was hinted at in Arrowsmith's text While it would be easy to hide behind the producer's decision, without my permission, to delete my "Written by" credit when the film was finished and aired on television, the real problem is that I should not have used the name of an actual human being, Chief Seattle.


  1. Navigation menu.
  2. How Can One Sell the Air? Summary;
  3. The World of Chief Seattle.
  4. Dont Look Back (Alex Delillo 4).
  5. That I could put words into the mouth of someone I did not know, particularly a Native American, is pure hubris if not racist. My mind is like yours. My heart is very good towards Dr. I want always to get medicine from him. We are the friends of the Americans.

    All the Indians are of the same mind. We look upon you as our father. We will never change our minds, but since you have been to see us we will always be the same. Now, now do you send this paper of our hearts to the Great Chief. That is all I have to say.

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    Chief Seattle | Roz Savage

    One was a fragment of a speech recorded in and the other, from May of , was a lament by Seattle that the Port Elliott treaty had failed to win ratification in the US Senate, leaving the tribes in poverty and poor health. Those four short speeches are all we really know of the words of Chief Seattle. On that date, Dr. Henry A. Smith wrote of the Port Elliott negotiations,. Old Chief Seattle was the largest Indian I ever saw, and by far the noblest-looking.

    He stood 6 feet full in his moccasins, was broad-shouldered, deep-chested, and finely proportioned. His eyes were large, intelligent, expressive and friendly when in repose, and faithfully mirrored the varying moods of the great soul that looked through them. He was usually solemn, silent, and dignified, but on great occasions moved among assembled multitudes like a Titan among Lilliputians, and his lightest word was law. When rising to speak in council or to tender advice, all eyes were turned upon him, and deep-toned, sonorous, and eloquent sentences rolled from his lips like the ceaseless thunders of cataracts flowing from exhaustless fountains, and his magnificent bearing was as noble as that of the most cultivated military chieftain in command of the forces of a continent.

    Neither his eloquence, his dignity, or his grace were acquired. They were as native to his manhood as leaves and blossoms are to a flowering almond. His influence was marvelous. He might have been an emperor but all his instincts were democratic, and he ruled his loyal subjects with kindness and paternal benignity. He was always flattered by marked attention from white men, and never so much as when seated at their tables, and on such occasions he manifested more than anywhere else the genuine instincts of a gentleman.

    Clark observed:. As a result of such discrepancies, staff of the National Archives in Washington, DC, concluded that the speech is most likely fiction. This speech is indeed memorable, and one is left wondering how Dr. Smith managed to translate a lengthy address in the obscure Lushootseed language, after being first translated into Chinook Jargon , a limited trading language, into then such florid Victorian prose, or why he waited 32 years to publish his translation. They are not many. No bright star hovers about the horizon.

    But why should we repine? Why should I murmur at the fate of my people? Tribes are made up of individuals and are no better than they. Men come and go like the waves of the sea. A tear, a tamanamus, a dirge, and they are gone from our longing eyes forever. Even the white man, whose God walked and talked with him, as friend to friend, is not exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers, after all. We shall see. But should we accept it, I here and now make this the first condition: That we will not be denied the privilege, without molestation, of visiting at will the graves of our ancestors and friends.

    Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Original Title. Friend Reviews.

    CHIEF SEATTLE 'S mwathoetranerpa.ml COMPREHENSIBLE EXPLANATION.

    To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about World of Chief Seattle , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about World of Chief Seattle. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4.

    Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Jun 10, Volkert rated it it was amazing Shelves: washington-state , non-fiction , indians-native-americans. This little volume provides an excellent introduction to the world and culture of the Coast Salish people, and more specifically the Suquamish Tribe, in the time before and during the life of Chief Seattle, as well as how life has evolved as a result of the intrusion of the Euro-American way of life.

    With a copyright date, some of the more recent information is a bit outdated, but the background is fascinating, especially as it's written from a Native perspective.

    The World of Chief Seattle: How Can One Sell the Air? The World of Chief Seattle: How Can One Sell the Air?
    The World of Chief Seattle: How Can One Sell the Air? The World of Chief Seattle: How Can One Sell the Air?
    The World of Chief Seattle: How Can One Sell the Air? The World of Chief Seattle: How Can One Sell the Air?
    The World of Chief Seattle: How Can One Sell the Air? The World of Chief Seattle: How Can One Sell the Air?
    The World of Chief Seattle: How Can One Sell the Air? The World of Chief Seattle: How Can One Sell the Air?
    The World of Chief Seattle: How Can One Sell the Air? The World of Chief Seattle: How Can One Sell the Air?
    The World of Chief Seattle: How Can One Sell the Air? The World of Chief Seattle: How Can One Sell the Air?

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