Draw a character sketch of Chief Seattle as reflected in ‘Chief Seattle’s Speech, 1854’.
Chief Seattle was a Native American Chief — a member of the Suquamish Tribe and a prominent figure among his people — who pursued a path of accommodation and reconciliation with the white settlers.
The chief is well-known for his famous speech of 1854, a plea for respect of Native American rights and environmental values. And this speech sheds some light on the traits of the speaker’s character.
Chief Seattle’s knowledge and wisdom is reflected throughout his speech. The way he draws comparisons from nature and the way he talks about the common destiny of death, only reflects his wisdom. Seattle’s friendly and accommodating nature is evident when he says “We may be brothers after all. We will see.” We can see his credibility when the man asserts that “My words are like stars that never change”. Chief Seattle is also self-critical when he disapproves of the impulsive behaviour of his own young people. Overall, Seattle is a man with great understanding and leadership qualities. He is also respectful not only to his ancestors and their words, but also to the white settlers.
Chief Seattle was a native American chief. The leader of the Suquamish tribe of Red Indians, a holy and a spiritual man who thinks about sustainability. He is a man of words and anyone can rely upon his words with high surety. He in his speech criticises the Whites by commenting in an ironic way. He thinks that the earth does not belong to man but man belongs to the earth, so people should do care of environment and utilize its resources in a good manner. He also says that the Nature is sympathetic to everyone but if people stop caring about it then they are just inviting their doom. Thus, it shows that chief Seattle thinks about the gift of Nature and also about future generations.
Chief Seattle was a native American chief. The leader of the Squamish tribe of Red Indians, a holy and a spiritual man, he is a man of words and anyone can rely upon his words with surety. He in his speech criticizes the whites by commenting in an ironic way. He thinks that the earth does not belong to man but man belongs to the earth. So people should take care of environment and utilise its resources in a good manner.
Chief was an important figure in early American History. He was the Chief of the Suquamish and Duwamish tribes, fighting for the rights of his native people in the face of American colonizers. He delivered a long and heart-moving speech in 1854. He delivered his speech to his people when American colonizers, wanted to buy the native land of his tribe and in return offered them amnesty and the right to live there.
A True Well-wisher and Patriot
As an old Chief who had seen natives killed, he reluctantly accepted the offer, since he believed, turning it down will only result in the total annihilation of his tribe. His speech was consolatory in nature, helping his people to understand what was going on, their weak position in the political climate, and helping them to understand the transition they were now forced to make. Indeed, he was a true patriot who wanted to preserve the native Americans’ land rights. Through his speech, he showed his respect for the native Americans’ way of life.
His Physical Appearance
Chief Seattle was the largest Indian and by far the noblest-looking. He stood six feet in his moccasins. He 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 low.
His Being Straightforward and Lover of Peace
His oration was brilliant and straightforward. He emphasised reconciliation between his tribal people and the White people in a direct and straightforward manner. He advocated peace between the two races in a candid maimer. He did not mince words when he said that he did not want the hostilities that existed between his tribal people and the White people to return. He stood for a peaceful living.
His speech is marked by philosophical notes. He remarks ‘Day and night can not dwell together. The Redman has ever fled the approach of the white man, as the morning mist flees before the morning sun.’ He then philosophizes that tribe follows tribe and nation follows nation like the waves of the sea. It is the order of nature and regret is useless. He, then, calls death a change of worlds.
An Orator of Spontaneity
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 Being A Spiritual Person
Chief Seattle seemed to be a true embodiment of spirituality. He upheld the sacredness of the land which was the resting place of his ancestors. In his speech, he says that the white men’s religion was written upon tablets of stone by the iron fingers of their God so that they could not forget. The Redman could never comprehend or remember it. But his natives’ religion is the traditions of their ancestors. It constitutes the dreams of their old men and is written in the hearts of his people:
‘Our religion is the traditions of our ancestors—the dreams of our old men, given them in solemn hours of the night by the Great Spirit; and the visions of sachems, and is written in the hearts of our people.’
His Having A Close Attachment with Nature
In his speech, Chief Seattle says that it is not that we can rule over nature, moreover, it is important to realize that all of us are part of nature and we need to respect every aspect of nature. He says that Red Indians consider their land to be sacred whereas the White man considers land to be a natural resource which they must own so as to reap benefits out of it. He says that every hill, every valley, every plain, and even rocks (which seem to be lifeless) are holy for his natives.
His Belief in Transcendence
Chief Seattle thought that with the extinction of his last native, the shores would swarm with the invisible dead of his tribe. At night, the deserted streets would be thronged with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful land. The white man would never be alone. They would feel the presence of the dead natives everywhere. He calls death only a change of the world.
A Man of Great Influence
Chief Seattle’s 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.
When Governor Stevens first arrived in Seattle and told the natives he had been appointed commissioner of Indian affairs for Washington Territory, they gave him a demonstrative reception in front of Dr. Maynard’s office, near the waterfront on the main street. The bay swarmed with canoes and shore was lined with a living mass of swaying, writhing, dusky humanity, until old Chief Seattle’s trumpet-toned voice rolled over the immense multitude, like the startling reveille of a bass drum, when the silence became as instantaneous and perfect as that which follows a clap of thunder from a clear sky.