|Chief Seattle's Speech|
(i). Who speaks these words? Give the meaning of:
“Yonder sky that has wept tears of compassion upon my people for centuries untold.”
Ans. These are words are spoken by Chief Seattle. He says that nature has sympathised with his people for many years.
(ii). Why does the speaker say “ tomorrow it may be overcast with clouds”?
Ans. Chief Seattle means that things are fine at present. However, the scenario will change in the future as the Great Chief in Washington wishes to buy their land with words of feigned ‘goodwill and friendship.’
(iii). Who is the ‘Great Chief at Washington’? What has the Great Chief done to Seattle and his people?
Ans. George Washington, the first President of the United States of America, is the Great Chief at Washington. The Great Chief at Washington wishes to buy the land of the Native Americans with words of feigned ‘goodwill and friendship.’
(iv). How much are Seattle’s words reliable as far as the Great Chief is concerned?
Ans. Seattle’s words are like the stars that never change. The Great Chief at Washington can rely upon with as much certainty as he can upon the return of the sun or the seasons.
(v). Briefly state the reaction of Chief Seattle to the greetings sent by the Big Chief at Washington?
Ans. The Great Chief sends Chief Seattle and his people to words of goodwill and friendship. Seattle feels that he is in little need of their help and their friendship, as his people are strong and powerful as compared to the natives.
(i). Compare the number of Chief Seattle’s people with that of the White Chief. How does the narrator illustrate this act?
Ans. His people are few they resemble the scattering trees of a storm-swept plain. Seattle says that there was a time when his people were large in number now they are nothing more than a mournful memory. He compares the Whites to the grass that covers the vast prairies, large in number.
(ii). What message does the White Chief send to the native people?
Ans. The White Chief informs to the native American that they should get ready for the land settlement treaty. This deal was between the US government and Native American tribe. According to the treaty, the Native Americans should surrender their land to the whites and move farther from their ancestors’ land.
(iii). A little later, how does Seattle describe that his people were numerous once upon a time?
Ans. He says that once the Native Americans covered the land as the waves of a wind-ruffled sea cover its shell-paved floor.
(iv). State the message sent by the White Chief to the native people. What is the reaction of Chief Seattle to the message?
Ans. The White Chief wishes to buy the land of the Native Americans. Seattle says that the proposition seems to be just, kind and generous the Redman no longer has rights. The offer appears to be wise since the Native Americans are less in number and don’t require a vast territory.
(v). What happened when the White man began to push the natives westward? Should the native people take revenge on the White men? Why?
Ans. The young person is arrogant in time of war turned violent and indulged in revengeful acts when the white men pushed the westward. There is no use in taking revenge on the White men because they are large in number as well as more powerful. In times of war, they even lose their own lives, but the family that wants for them at home bears the loss.
(i). Who is referred to as our father in Washington? Since when he has become ‘our father and your father’?
Ans. George Washington is referred to as father in Washington. Since King George has moved his boundaries further north, he has become the father of the Native Americans.
(ii). Under what condition is the good father going to protect the native people? What is meant by ‘bristling wall of strength’?
Ans. If the Native Americans surrender or sell their land to the White settlers, he will protect them from foreign enemies like Haidas and Tsimshians. Bristling wall of strength is referred to the vigorous and energetic white people’s brave men who will provide the strength and will protect them from their ancient enemies.
(iii). Who are Haidas and Tsimshians? How they will cease to frighten the natives?
Ans. They were the two tribes who were the enemies of Native Americans. The White Chief’s brave men will provide the native's and his ship would fill their harbours so that Hidas and Tsimshians cease to frighten the natives.
(iv). How does Chief Seattle prove that the White man’s God is not the God of the natives?
Ans. The God of the White man loves his people and hates Seattle’s people. He protects them lovingly and leads them like a father leads his infant son. But he has forsaken Seattle and his people.
(v) A little earlier, chief Seattle exclaims that"youth is impulsive." Why does he say that? What does it reflect about is character?
Ans. Youth is impulsive because they grow angry at real or imaginary and they often become cruel and relatedness. Seattle discourages such kind of behaviour from the youth and it indicates his love for peace and friendly relationship. He is against war and he does not glorify war but condemns it.
(i). Who is referred to as the God of the natives? Why does he seem to have forgotten them?
Ans. The Great Spirit is referred to as the God of the natives. The Great Spirit has forgotten his people because the Suquamish tribe has almost become extinct and their number is declining rapidly. The Great Spirit is no longer a father figure to them; “they seem to be orphans who can look nowhere for help.”
(ii). Why are the natives compared to the receding tide and are called orphans?
Ans. Their population is rapidly reducing and they have almost become extinct. They are called orphans because their God, the Great Spirit has forgotten them.
(iii). why does the Chief say ‘that if there was a common father for both races, he must be partial?
Ans. Because he came to the help of his paleface children and never came to the help of Red Man. He gave them laws to be followed but none to his Red children. They have a separate origin and separate destinies. He makes the White people stronger every day but does nothing for the well being of the natives.
(iv). How does the speech of the Chief show that his people were oppressed?
Ans. The Whites unjustly exercising authority over the Native Americans. It is the natives’ land that the Big Chief in Washington ‘wishes’ to buy but ‘wish’ is a word sarcastically used by Chief Seattle. The Whites are so powerful in terms of their army and navy that the Red Indians need to bow down. Chief Seattle says that Whites are willing to allow them enough land to live comfortably which is symbolic of their master-slave relationship.
(v). Finally, the Chief says ‘We are two distinct races with separate origins and separate destinies.’ Give examples to prove this statement.
Ans. The natives’ origin is the American land that is being contested; the Whites originally belonged to Europe who came and colonized these native Americans. Their destinies are different-the natives are receding every day while the Whites are like the grass that covers vast prairies.
(i) What was the Red Man’s religion?
Ans. Red Man's religion is the traditions of their ancestors-the dreams of their old men, given them in solemn hours of the night by the Great Spirit; and the visions of their sachems, and is written in the hearts of their people.
(ii). How can you conclude that the natives are more dependent on their ancestors than the White men?
Ans. Seattle says that the ashes of his ancestors are sacred and their resting place is hallowed ground. They love to stay in the land where their ancestors’ memories are alive. Whereas the Whites wander far from their ancestors’ graves. The Whites once they are dead, forget their native land and never return. The dead of the Red men will never forget their native land and year to visit this beautiful land.
(iii) What does Seattle say about Christianity?
Ans. Chief Seattle says that the God of Christianity talked to the men like friends. They were away from their ancestors and their origin and wandered all around the world.
(iv) Give three points of distinction of between the religion of the White man and that of the Red man.
Ans. The religion of the Red Man is the traditions of their ancestors-the dreams of their old men, given them in solemn hours of the night by the Great Spirit; and the visions of their sachems, and is written in the hearts of their people. The White men followed Christianity and it was written by the iron finger of their God, symbolising strict adherence to rules and principles. The God of this religion is partial and has forsaken His Red children. Seattle says that this God loves only his paleface children and not the natives.
(v). Give the meaning of :
a) Tablet of stone: It means that something on a hard surface in a written form.
b) Iron finger: Biblical phrase which means Finger of God.
(i) Why do the dead of the White men cease to love their land and their people?
Ans. This is because they never connect with their land their people spiritually. Their relationship with their land and their people is not sacred or holy; it is materialistic. As soon as they die, the link to their earthly life breaks and devoid of spiritualism they are incapable of an afterlife.
(ii) On the other hand, what do the dead of the Red man do to their living?
Ans. The dead of the Red man never forgets this beautiful world that gave them being. They still love its verdant valleys, its murmuring rivers, its magnificent mountains, sequestered valleys and verdant lined lakes and bays, and even yearn intender fond affection over the lonely-hearted living, and often return from the happy hunting ground to visit, guide, console and comfort them.
(iii) What propels was put forward to the Red man by the Great Chief?
Ans. The Red men should surrender their native land to the Whites. In return of this, the Whites will protect them foreign attack from the Haidas and Tsimshians. The Whites are willing to allow them to enough land to live comfortably.
(iv) What is the impact of the proposal on the Red man and the White man?
Ans. The Native Americans will have to leave their native land where their ancestors are resting in eternal peace. They lose their land which is full of memories. The land that they have been asked to sell is sacred for them. The Whites unjustly exercising authority over them. The Whites are powerful in terms of their army and navy that the Red Indians need to bow down. The Whites are willing to allow them enough land to live comfortably which is symbolic of their master-slave relationship.
(v) What role do the dead Red men play for the living? How do the dead Red men show that they are an intimate part of nature?
Ans. The Native Americans would be transported to a reality beyond what is felt by the senses. The ‘shores’, ‘the pathless woods’, ‘the field’ would never be empty of their spirits. This land will make them eternal. “In all the earth there is no place dedicated to solitude,’ and hence they will be a part of land forever. Their spirits would still love ‘this beautiful land’ and its ‘magnificent mountains’ and ‘sequestered vales.’ Their death here would not be death but only a gateway to the eternal world.
(i) How has the Chief shown earlier that he is not happy about the fate of his people?
Ans. He feels as if not a single star of hope hovers above the natives’ horizon. The winds moan and grim fate follow them. Their situation is similar to a wounded doe that is being hunted down. Moreover, he feels that in a few more years, their race will disappear. This is how he reflects his unhappiness about the fate of his people.
(ii) How is the order of nature referred to by the Chief? How does he hint that justice will be done at the end?
Ans. Every person, tribe, or culture that is risen to great glory would definitely meet its fall one day and that would surely be the day of justice. Seattle believes that time will come when the Whites would also be moving towards their inevitable doom.
(iii) What is referred to: the "White man’s God who walked and talked with him?"
Ans. This is a reference to the Biblical God and his ten commandments that always supported and guided the White men.
iv) Give the meaning and significance of:
‘We may be brothers after all.’
Ans. Seattle believes that White settlers too will have their decay one day. It would be then that the White men and Red men would share a common destiny. They would be brothers only when the Whites would be able to empathise the Red men.
v) What could be the common destiny of man? Give the hints given in the extract to show that the Chief foresees the unity of all human beings?
Ans. The common destiny of man is that his decay is inevitable and will be salvation. It is through the White man’s decay the Seattle foresees the unity of all beings. He says: ‘we may be brothers after all. We will see.’
(i) Explain why there is "no place dedicated to solitude".
Ans. This is because even after the last native has perished ‘shores will swarm with the invisible dead’ of Seattle’s tribe. The natives’ love for their land makes them immortal. Thus, Whites will never be alone.
(ii). When do the shadowy spirits visit the places?
Ans. The shadowy spirits visit the places at nights when the streets of the Whites’ cities are silent and it is falsely believed that they are deserted.
(iii). When would the memory of the tribe be a myth among the White men?
Ans. The memory of the tribe would become a myth among the White men when the last Red man shall have perished from the natives’ land, but this would be momentary as it would the ‘swarm with the invisible dead of the tribe.’
(iv). What is the attitude of the dead towards the objects of nature?
Ans. Native Americans even after death don’t forget the world that gave them their being and identity. They keep on loving its valleys, its rivers, its magnificent mountains, and its lakes. The dead feel one with nature and its surroundings.
(v). Explain how does the speech of the Chief reflect upon the theme of changing human life to another form.
Ans. The Native Americans would be transported to a reality beyond what is felt by the senses. The ‘shores’, ‘the pathless woods’, ‘the field’ would never be empty of their spirits. This land will make them eternal. “In all the earth there is no place dedicated to solitude,’ and hence they will be a part of land forever. Their spirits would still love ‘this beautiful land’ and its ‘magnificent mountains’ and ‘sequestered vales.’ Their death here would not be death but only a gateway to the eternal world. They will only change their world and hence will become immortal. He ends his speech with the assertion that ‘there is no death, only a change of worlds.’
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