The largest city in the Pacific Northwest of the United States is named for the Native American Chief Seattle, also known as Sealth or Si’ahl (1786- 1866). A visionary leader of the Duwamish tribe he is remembered for his dignified and noble defences of ecology and advocacy for Native American land rights. He worked with the colonisers to negotiate the best possible outcomes for his tribe in the face of the rapid sweep of population to the Pacific North following the onset of the maritime fur trade.
Sealth is reported to have made a profound impact on the colonisers of his country in his native Lushootseed language during a public address with the State Governor in 1854. There is also controversy over the translation of a letter he wrote to the U.S. President a year later. Although his exact words may have been diluted in translation his message on behalf of his people calling for restraint and respect for the land is clear.
In 1993, Sealth’s vision was captured by one of Seattle’s seminal grunge bands Soundgarden who covered Black Sabbath’s song “into the void”, replacing the original lyrics with Sealth’s words.
To read a transcript of Chief Seattle's letter, visit:
To read a transcript of his speech, visit: