All Things Are Connected, We Must Teach Our Children
From Medicine of the Cherokee: The Way of Right Relationship, by J.T. Garrett and Michael Garrett
In 1855, upon surrendering tribal lands to the government of the Washington Territory, Chief Seattle of the Suquamish and Duwamish people delivered his famous speech with great eloquence and sadness. Following are adapted excerpts from words spoken by Chief Seattle:
“Every part of this Earth is sacred to our people. Every shining 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 our people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the people.
The perfumed flowers are our sisters; the Deer, the Horse, the great Eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the juices of the meadows, the body heat of the pony and people – all belong to the same family.
The ashes of our father and mothers are sacred. Their graves are holy ground, and so these hills, these trees, this portion of Earth is consecrated by us. The shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water, but the blood of our ancestors. You must teach your children that it is sacred and that each ghostly reflection in the clear water of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of our people. The water’s murmur is the voice of our father’s father.
The rivers are our brothers, they quench our thirst. The rivers carry our canoes and feed our children. You must teach your children that the rivers are our brothers, and you must give the rivers the kindness you would give any brother.
The air is precious to us, and it shares its spirit with all the life it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather and grandmother their first breath also receives their last sigh. And the wind must also give our children the spirit of life. When we taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow’s flowers, we must remember that it is sacred.
The animals are our brothers and sisters. What are we without the animals? If all the animals were gone, we would die from a great loneliness of spirit. Whatever happens to the animals, soon happens to the people. All things are connected.
You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers and grandmothers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the Earth is rich with the lives of our kin. Teach your children what we have taught our children, that Earth is our Mother. Whatever befalls Earth, befalls the sons and daughters of Earth.
This we know. Earth does not belong to people; people belong to Earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.
Love the land as we have loved it. Care for it as we have cared for it. And with all your strength, with all your mind, and with all your heart, preserve it for your children and love it… as the Great One loves us all.”
Everything around us is alive with spiritual energy and importance. This includes all animals, plants, people, rocks and minerals; Earth, sky, Sun, Moon, and stars; and the elements, such as wind, water, fire, thunder, clouds, lightning, and rain all combined in an intricate system of interdependence and interrelationship.
A fundamental belief in the Medicine Way is this: All things are connected. This universe is made up of a balance among all of these things and a continuous flow or cycling of this energy. We have a sacred relationship with the universe that is to be honored every moment of every day, through our thoughts, intentions, and actions. All things are connected, all things have life, and all things are worthy of respect and reverence.