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Excerpt from Chief Seattle's speech

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At some point, maybe in 1854, a Suquamish chief named Seathl visited Seattle, Washington. According to several of the people present, he gave a speech to the militant governor of the state of Washington, who had proposed that the Suquamish move to a reservation. Seathl spoke in Lushootseed, which was translated into Chinook Trade Language, then into English. Dr. Henry Smith published a “reconstruction” of that possible speech in the Seattle Sunday Star on Oct. 29, 1887. It was concocted from Smith’s “admittedly incomplete” notes. This is an excerpt from what was published:

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AUTHENTIC TEXT OF CHIEF SEATTLE'S

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TREATY ORATION: 1854

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We will ponder your proposition and when we decide we will let you know. But should we accept it, I here and now make this condition that we will not be denied the privilege without molestation of visiting at any time the tombs of our ancestors, friends, and children. Every part of this soil is sacred in the estimation of my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove, has been hallowed by some sad or happy event in days long vanished. Even the rocks, which seem to be dumb and dead as the swelter in the sun along the silent shore, thrill with memories of stirring events connected with the lives of my people, and the very dust upon which you now stand responds more lovingly to their footsteps than yours, because it is rich with the blood of our ancestors, and our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch. Our departed braves, fond mothers, glad, happy hearted maidens, and even the little children who lived here and rejoiced here for a brief season, will love these somber solitudes and at eventide they greet shadowy returning spirits. And when the last Red Man shall have perished, and the memory of my tribe shall have become a myth among the White Men, these shores will swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe, and when your children's children think themselves alone in the field, the store, the shop, upon the highway, or in the silence of the pathless woods, they will not be alone. In all the earth there is no place dedicated to solitude. At night when the streets of your cities and villages are silent and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful land. The White Man will never be alone.

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Sep 16
Faith Y (Sep 16 2020 2:52PM) : Molestation more

The author’s powerful diction when he uses the word “molestation” really creates a painful and impactful tone. The more you read, the more the tone gets intense. Telling me that the purpose of writing this is to tell others that it is not right to kill his own tribe, and make them seen as inhumane. However, if you do kill off everyone from his tribe they will never leave their land, even in the afterlife.

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Sep 16
Celia B (Sep 16 2020 12:06PM) : Word: "molestation" more

This piece of diction, selected by John Smith to convey the speech by Chief Seathl, is very effective in creating empathy. It paints the Chief and his people in a positive light, as this word is imploring the listener/reader to acknowledge that they should not be forced into victimhood. It has a lot of emotional weight since “molestation” has such a negative connotation compared to somewhat similar words in this context like “bother” or “disturbance”.

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Sep 16
Katie T (Sep 16 2020 12:24PM) : See more

I agree with your interpretation of the word, especially how you pointed out how it creates the sense of victimization among the tribe.

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Sep 16
Kaia G (Sep 16 2020 12:49PM) : I think that that word also points us into Smith's perspective on Indiginous People. This is also used in a more formal way, so that the reader can think of Seathl as more intelligent than he may have otherwise been portrayed.
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Sep 16
Madeline G (Sep 16 2020 7:48PM) : Molestation more

I completely agree with Celia, and that ‘molestation’ has a more negative connotation to it. However, I wonder if that negative connotation existed when the word was used. I think that it was a very interesting word choice.

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Sep 16
Maisie P (Sep 16 2020 10:03PM) : Molestation more

I think he definitely used molestation not to upset the reader, but to stand out and really be analyzed so the reader can fully grasp the emotional significance this event will ensue.

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Sep 16
Katie T (Sep 16 2020 12:08PM) : Diction- Molestation more

Chief Seathl uses the word “molestation” to describe their distrust and wariness of moving their tribe to a reservation. The use of this language shows the audience how offensive the governor’s proposal was to the tribe. Through the use of this word, the audience knows that their land is sacred and special, and by moving the tribe they are assaulting them and their beliefs.

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Sep 16
Celia B (Sep 16 2020 1:07PM) : I like this expansion more

I also wrote an analysis of this same word choice, but I really like the things that you mentioned that I did not think to talk about. Namely, using the word “offensive” to describe the general implication in using “molestation” as a word to describe this affront. I think that was a great tone to pick up on and then voice.

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Sep 16
Peter k (Sep 16 2020 12:13PM) : molestation more

This is an important and effective piece of diction, because unlike this sentence it clearly and effectively conveys that they don’t want to be pestered or refused access when they visit their ancestors tombs.

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Sep 16
Faith Y (Sep 16 2020 2:57PM) : Molestation more

I also did the same word, because it also stood out to me because of the tone it created. I like how you explained that the diction clearly explains what the purpose of this writing is. To me though I found this word particularly interesting, because it makes the tone seem more cruel with what was done with them.

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Sep 16
Collin S (Sep 16 2020 6:15PM) : Molestation more

I agree, and molestation has a very negative nuance and polarizing tone. This changes the readers interpretation and feeling towards the statement.

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Sep 16
Carmen L (Sep 16 2020 10:53PM) : Children (repeated) [Edited] more

The word children is repeated and I think this is important because this shows how there could have been a vision of having people living there for many years and children growing up with innocence and having the same expiriences as other children that once lived.

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Sep 16
Peter k (Sep 16 2020 11:47PM) : Also, I think repetition of the word "children" conveys a sense of loss considering they're talking about tombs.
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Sep 16
Kaia G (Sep 16 2020 12:02PM) : The word "Every" is repeated for emphasis. [Edited] more

Seathl wants Smith to know that all parts of their land has been touched by their culture and people, even if they must move away. Every plain, field, mountain, and valley once belonged to them, and Seathl wants to emphasize that both to Smith and to anyone who heard his speech.

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Sep 16
Celia B (Sep 16 2020 1:05PM) : Nice technique to notice more

Yes, I agree with this repetition that you noticed. This is a common tactic employed in poetry and also in political speeches. By deliberately repeating specific diction, it places extra power and draws attention to that specific phrase in which you are utilizing repetition.

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Sep 16
Alice C (Sep 16 2020 3:10PM) : Importance of land more

I agree and think that this use of every also makes you feel more for the people. It is not just one or a few important hills or valleys they are being forced to move from, but all of the valleys and hills were important to them.

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Sep 16
Meghan E (Sep 16 2020 5:54PM) : repetition makes it emotional more

I agree, by repeating the word it makes it stand out more and be very clear. It makes the tone more emotional which pulls the audience’s feelings. Repetition also makes it more memorable and persuasive.

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Sep 16
Madeline G (Sep 16 2020 7:44PM) : Every is repeated more

I also noticed the repetition, and agree that it is so that the people who hear the speech know that their culture owned the land for a long time. I also think it shows how well the tribe and this person know the land. It emphasizes the fact that they were there long enough to learn all the secret hiding places, where anything useful might be, etc.

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Sep 16
Owen R (Sep 16 2020 12:05PM) : Hallowed more

Hallowed – meaning to be made holy or to be revered – is a really tactful use of diction. Not only does it really emphasize the importance of their land, but it also speaks to the contrast of viewpoint between the Native’s and the “White Man”. This word really defines the sacred aspect of their homeland and encapsulates the strong connections to it.

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Sep 16
Kaia G (Sep 16 2020 12:07PM) : This also compares to how the Europeans thought of land: as an asset, not worth much culturally, and valuable enough to displace those who treasure it.
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Sep 16
Katie T (Sep 16 2020 12:21PM) : See more

It also gives a sinister vibe in relation to the proposal which is helpful for the tone.

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Sep 17
Stephen R (Sep 17 2020 12:26AM) : I would disagree. more

I would have to disagree with this being the proper diction. While it may emphasize the importance of the land, those who read the translation, the white people, would largely see it as over emphasis and possibly blasphemous due to the way it is used in and associated with the lord’s prayer.

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Sep 16
Alice C (Sep 16 2020 2:38PM) : Vanished more

The use of the word “vanished” instead of words like “ago” or “past” emphasizes the idea that these days are gone and will not come again. If something vanishes it ceases to exist. These people are being pushed off their land, and so they will never again be able to have those events on the hills and valleys, and this choice of word highlights that idea.

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Sep 16
Faith Y (Sep 16 2020 2:49PM) : Vanished more

Yes, I totally agree with your thoughts. I also think by saying “vanished,” makes the tone more vulnerable of the readers to feel sympathy and pity to try to help them.

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Sep 16
Meghan E (Sep 16 2020 5:30PM) : vanished more

I like that you mentioned why he chose the word vanished over the word past. I think using the word vanished makes it more impactful because that means it’s gone.It emphasizes that those days have disappeared and won’t be coming back.

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Sep 16
Martin L (Sep 16 2020 9:32PM) : Vanished more

It also hints at the idea of how little time they spent on that land, which comes up in a later sentence.

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Sep 16
Maisie P (Sep 16 2020 9:59PM) : Vanished more

I agree that using vanish instead in place of “past” is a very purposeful action. Using vanished helps the reader to comprehend the magnitude at which him, and his people will feel the loss of their land.

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Sep 17
Stephen R (Sep 17 2020 12:32AM) : vanished more

I agree and think that it also adds a sense of longing that aids in gaining the sympathy of the readers.

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Sep 16
Martin L (Sep 16 2020 9:19PM) : Diction: Hallowed more

The choice of using hallowed to describe the importance of their land is a fairly interesting one. In this context it portrays the importance and sanctity of the land to the indigenous people. Given the context of the speech it is also heavily implied that the Chief does not believe the white men have this same respect. Another interesting aspect of the diction in this speech lack of certainty behind it. It was a reconstruction from “admittedly incomplete” notes so we are relying in the interpenetration of the translators to get the true meaning across.

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Sep 16
Owen R (Sep 16 2020 9:35PM) : Hallowed more

I completely agree. I also used the difference of respect, and totally understand your argument of the chief’s opinions. It’s interesting how different people see the land in different ways.

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Sep 17
Andrew M (Sep 17 2020 12:07AM) : Hallowed more

I totally agree that this word enhances the meaning of the sentence and that it comes with the implication that the white people trying to take the land don’t share the same connection to the land witch strengthens the argument being made.

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Sep 17
Stephen R (Sep 17 2020 12:21AM) : The word hallowed in this sentence more

The use of the word hallowed by the translator with the audience being primarily Christian has a connotation of being the holiest of holy things. This connotation arises from the Lord’s prayer saying, “Our father who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name”. This shows a bad choice of diction by the translator due to the fact that the connotations the reader perceived were not taken into account with the translating, thus reducing the translation’s accuracy.

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Sep 16
Andrew M (Sep 16 2020 10:01PM) : Conscious more

The use of the word “conscious” to describe how indigenous people connect to their land through their ancestors contributes the the document and its points. The word personifies feet which makes the document’s tone that much more personal. The word in the context of the rest of the sentence and document also implies that people taking their land are unconscious of the Native American’s ancestors connection through the land and greatly enhances the point that the land is sacred to the Native Americans and no one else.

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Sep 16
Peter k (Sep 16 2020 11:38PM) : I agree and it brings attention to the way native americans treated the land, with conscious respect and sympathy
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Sep 16
Madeline G (Sep 16 2020 7:37PM) : Brief season more

The choice of ‘brief season’ is very interesting because it stresses how little time the young children had on their tribe’s land, and how they are being forced out. It also shows exactly how the speaker feels towards the fact that the tribe has to leave, because the children are the only ones who are described with timeframe words (brief, season)

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Sep 16
Martin L (Sep 16 2020 9:26PM) : Brief Season more

I agree and also think it shows the attitude towards the land the indigenous people have. The white men would have very little attachment to the land as they viewed it as materials and were only there for a short time, however because of how much the indigenous people cared for the land it possessed great importance regardless of the time spent there.

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Sep 17
Andrew M (Sep 17 2020 12:21AM) : Brief season more

I totally agree, the way this describes how the children would have to be prematurely separated from their very important and sacred land reenforces the point it’s trying to make.

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Sep 16
Meghan E (Sep 16 2020 4:19PM) : Perished more

Chief Seathl uses the word perished instead of die because it emphasizes that they will pass from existence. To perish means to disappear because of your conditions. His tribe is being forced to relocate to an area that isn’t completely sustainable for them. He wants the audience to know that they won’t just die off but will gradually disappear due to the position they were forced into.

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Sep 16
Alice C (Sep 16 2020 5:46PM) : Perished more

I agree, I think you make a good point. I also think it makes them more sympathetic as a quick death is normally better than a slow one.

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Sep 16
Collin S (Sep 16 2020 6:12PM) : Perishes more

I think this is a really good point, especially because they are not simply dying, their memories will live on and eventually when their is no bloodline left it will die.

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Sep 16
Madeline G (Sep 16 2020 7:41PM) : Perished more

I agree with the idea that the use of perish illustrates that his people will die from things they were forced into. I also feel like the use of the word ‘perished’ puts an image into your mind of suffering. Using the word ‘die’ is more passive, because there are many ways one can die. However, the word ‘perished’ is used for events such as dying on the battlefield.

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Sep 16
Maisie P (Sep 16 2020 9:56PM) : Perished more

I also agree on this front because it is very important to make this differential between perished and just “die”.Death is inevitable, while perishing only happens when the memory of your existence and your morality ceases to exist as well, many would argue to be worse, and in this case it is.

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Sep 17
Noah H (Sep 17 2020 12:24AM) : Red Man more

Dr. Smith’s views clearly bleed through the translation. His use of the words “Red Man” is an exemplary instance of the extreme racism of the times. The tone is demeaning because he uses the racist term in the translation, whereas in the original speech the tone was most likely much more somber because it mentions how his people would be wiped out.

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Sep 16
Collin S (Sep 16 2020 6:10PM) : Solitude more

The word solitude is used twice. Once in Sentence 6 and then again in Sentence 8. The placement of the exact same word in two places stood out to me. Although The sentence that splits these two words also has meaning to me. In sentence 7 he describes what the life would be like when the last Native American is gone. Before the solitude is referring to peace and joy (happy memories) of the Native Americans (before they are all dead). Where as, after the sentence when he says “the last Red Man shall have perished” the meaning in the word solitude that follows is that of remorseful thinking of the Natives and how they will in a sense haunt the land (bad memories). I think this may be a bit far fetched.

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Sep 16
Owen R (Sep 16 2020 9:39PM) : Nice comment! more

This is good! I completely agree with your notes here, and i think it’s really interesting how diction can use varied repetition to convey different meaning with the same word. Solitude can mean peace or loneliness and it’s very clear in the text that both are exemplified in the Native’s situation.

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Chief Seathl Dr. Henry Smith

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DMU Timestamp: September 03, 2020 08:33

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Sep 16
Sara J (Sep 16 2020 9:39AM) : Reliability [Edited] more

One of the most interesting things about this document is the tension between the unbelievably unreliable nature of the text itself and the diction choices Dr. Smith employs on Chief Seathl’s behalf. Think about the layers of intention behind this text as you read. Whose words are these, how can you tell, what is the tone created, and what is the purpose of the document as a whole?
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Sep 16
William G (Sep 16 2020 3:53PM) : Weight more

What I find most interesting is the weight carried by the diction Smith choses to translate into Chief Seattle’s speech. It makes his tone sound indignant and proud, yet somewhat sorrowful. The words used reflect a man being forced from his childhood home by strangers. There is a measure of resignation as well as pride in the speech, pride or the land he walks on and resignation to the ones who he knows will take it.

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