Native-Americans became immigrants in their own land

Gerald W. Deas M.D., MPH | 11/29/2018, 2:16 p.m. | Updated on 11/29/2018, 2:16 p.m.

It seems today that the immigrants entering our country are being singled out as undesirable and unwelcome in this land of freedom, especially in comparison to how the pilgrims were welcomed by the Native-Americans and given sustenance for their survival. We should question why those today are being singled out and refused the same welcoming hands of those who were also at one time immigrants themselves.

In December 1854, Chief Sealth’s (Seattle) sent the following message to President Franklin Pierce: “How can you buy or sell the Earth? The Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. The Great Chief also sends us words of friendship and goodwill. This is kind of him, since we know he has little need of our friendship in, return but we will consider your offer.

“How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of 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 this Earth is sacred to my people. Every pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and every humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man, So, when the Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land, he asks much of us…

“This we know; All things are connected. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth. 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. But we will consider your offer to go to the reservation you have for my people. We will live apart and in peace.

“One thing we know, which the white man one day will discover—our God is the same God. You may think now that you own Him as you wish to own our land; but you cannot.

“He is the God of man and his compassion is equal for the red man and the white.

“This Earth is precious to Him and to harm the Earth is the heap contempt on its Creator. The whites too shall pass; perhaps sooner than the other tribes.

“But in your perishing, you will shine brightly, fired by the strength of the God who brought you to this land and for some special purpose gave you dominion over this land and over the red man.

“That destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not understand when the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses are tamed and the view of the ripe hill blotted by talking wires. Where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the eagle? Gone. What is it to say goodbye to the swift pony and the hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival. So we will consider your offer to buy the land.