CHIEF SEATTLE’S LETTER to All Americans
“The President in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. But how can you 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 the 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 dew in the meadow, the body heat 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 remember that it is sacred. Each glossy 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 the rivers the kindness that you would give 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 that it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also received his last sigh. The wind also gives our children the spirit of life. So if we sell our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where man can go to 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 the 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.
Your destiny is a mystery to us. What will happen when the buffalo are all 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 with talking wires? Where will the thicket be? Gone! Where will the eagle be? Gone! And what is to say goodbye to the swift pony and then hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival.
When the last red man has vanished with this wilderness, and his memory is only the shadow of a cloud moving across the prairie, will these shores and forests still be here? Will there be any of the spirit of my people left?
We love this earth as a newborn 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 you receive it. Preserve the land for all children, and love it, as God loves us.
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.
We ARE all brothers after all.”
A Message from Britain on the Death of Renisha McBride
I read about the tragic case of Renisha McBride last Friday in a British newspaper called The Guardian, and wrote the following verses in response. Anyone who feels that my composition may be useful is free to use it in any form they see fit. I ask only that my authorship is acknowledged.
The following verses are also attached to this email in the form of a Word document, to facilitate their use.
I hope that justice can be served in this case, those responsible punished, and the law changed.
Regards and Best Wishes
Paul T Kegan
== The Dear Folk of Dearborn Heights
There’s a suburb of Detroit City Goes by the name of Dearborn Heights Where householders stand their ground Where they know their Goddamn rights
Their idea of assistance Is a bullet in your head If you’re young and Black and female They’ll probably shoot you dead
The highway of compassion It bypasses Dearborn Heights On blistering August days And cold November nights
Renisha McBride crashed her car At the tender age of nineteen Early one Saturday morning On streets unfriendly and mean
She knocked on his door and asked him for help He picked up his gun and he fired As from his house she turned away And on his front porch she expired
“The local police aren’t racist!” I imagine the outraged cries How then do we explain Their filthy racist lies?
Renisha she was dumped That was what they said On the porch of an innocent man She was already dead
The Prosecutor vetoed arrest In Wayne County it wasn’t a crime To shoot in the back of her head A woman, unarmed, in her prime
Because killing Blacks is legal It’s written in Michigan law They’re free to gun you down If you knock upon their door
Black folk can expect no sympathy In good ol’ Dearborn Heights Where householders stand their ground Where they know their Goddamn rights ■ Paul T Kegan 10 November 2013
In memory of Renisha McBride.