Letter to President Pierce

Posted: October 17th, 2013





Letter to President Pierce

In this letter, Chief Seattle notes the importance and significance of land to the red man. The red man’s perception of land in this manner is highly different from that of the white man. The red man views the land as part of him, and he even refers to the land as his brother. The red man considers the land to be part of him since this is where his people are buried, and this is where he has his birthright. However, the white man sees the land as something to be fought for and won over, and not something permanent. The red man sees the development of land as an eyesore, and says that it pains the eye. This is unlike the white man who sees signs of cities as evidence of civilization. The white man considers nature as a source of noise, but the red man considers nature a necessity to survival. Unlike the red man, the white man does not cherish the quietness in nature. The red man knows the importance of animals, and he considers them part of his spirit. He perceives that the end of man is inevitable if the beasts die, for man will also die. This is unlike the white man, who considers the animals as part of sport, or meat, and who ends up taming some animals. The red man does not separate himself from nature, and according to him, all the things on earth are connected. He perceives that whatever harm befalls nature will also befall man. The white man does not hold the same perception of nature, and he separates himself from it, giving everything in nature its place.

Chief Seattle has used the word ‘savage’ several times to describe his people, the Native Americans. The word savage means a barbaric and primitive person, and one who is not civilized in any way. A savage person is fierce, violent, and is not under human control. A savage can also mean a natural person, and Chief Seattle probably has this idea when he calls the Native Americans savages, since he considers them part of nature. However, in this context, Chief Seattle means that the Native Americans are savage because they do not understand the ways of the white man. They do not understand why the white man would destroy nature and build cities, which pain the eye. The chief considers his people savages since they do not understand the white man’s dreams. They do not understand how the white man cannot appreciate the silence and solitude of nature. They do not understand how the white man can dream of destroying everything the Native Americans consider sacred, and they do not understand how the white man cannot esteem nature, in the way that they themselves do.

Chief Seattle observes the way the white man disregards nature, and he perceives that the white man will suffer because of this. His words have been realized over the years, as people have continued to abuse land and nature, mostly in the name of civilization. People have continued to destroy natural habitats, displacing different organisms in the ecosystem, as they build modern buildings for different purposes. They have displaced the organisms, and this has led to the dwindling number and to the extinction of some organisms. People’s disrespect of nature is evidence when they destroy some plants in the ecosystem, because they think that they have no benefits. They destroy some of the plants they consider weeds, for the sake of aesthetic beauty. This has led to lack of diversity within the ecosystem. People have also continued to disrespect and disregard nature when they pollute it. They have manufactured products, which have led to the pollution of the land, water, and air. This pollution has led to the detriment of people’s health. Chief Seattle is right in telling the people that they will suffocate in their own waste if they continue to contaminate their beds.

Work Cited:

Chief Seattle. “Letter to President Pierce, 1855.”. The Norton Reader: An Anthology of Nonfiction. Eds. Linda H. Peterson and John C. Brereton. New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 2012. Print


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