Chief Seattle's Testimony

Summary A native american eco-gospel or Southern Baptist creation?

Chief Seattle (Seathl) In 1854 Chief Seattle met with and gave a speech to Isaac Stevens, Pacific Northwest Commissioner of Indian Affairs. {The Point Elliot Treaty 1855.}

Dr Henry Smith was there and translated the speech from the original Lushotseed. Smith knew it to be special and that much was lost in his first oral translation. He supposedly consulted the chief over a number of years to make sure his record was in accord with the original. Many other chiefs also spoke during the treaty "negotiations". {In their own words}

He published his translation in 1887 in the Seattle Sunday Star. {Smith's version}

In 1969 it was transformed from a Victorian oration into a more modern 1960's style protest prose poem   by Professor William Arrowsmith, who taught classic literature at the University of Texas.  On the first Earth Day in 1970, he read it to a large crowd . Ted Perry, a professor of film, was there. He was drafting a script for a film about pollution and the plight of the Earth, called Home for the Southern Baptist Television Commission. He took the Arrowsmith version and substantially modified it for the film. So the myth started. {Perry version}

Look at the Henry Smith (1887) and Ted Perry (1970) versions. What do they have in common and what is obvious invention? Note the complete disagreement over the role of the white man's GOD in his dealing with the native americans. Note also the introduction of the "Web of Life" concept. Can writing still contain truth even if it has been changed? Try to put yourself in the place of the characters in this "media" story. Read Andy Kerr's critique. What is his conclusion?

Read David Wu's critique "Chief Seattle's real message".

Even more critical William Abruzzi's "The Myth of Chief Seattle"

How did the Europeans treat the native indians? How did each side view the land? What did the land mean to Seattle? What did/does land mean to the Europeans? Which view is more likely to result in a sustainable lifestyle?

Can we learn from one another now?