“But we will consider your offer, for we know if we do not . . . the white man may come with guns and take our lands. . . . How can you buy or sell the sky— the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. Yet we do not own the freshness of the air or the sparkle of the water. . . . Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. . . . When the buffaloes are all slaughtered, the wild horses all tamed, the secret corners of the forest heavy with the scent of many men, and the views of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires, where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the eagle? Gone.”
With the weather pattern and water cycle changing rapidly than the changes we make, the intense storms, floods and landslides hitting harder, Chief Seattle’s speech is relevant than ever before. Considered as the earliest instance where someone expressed concern over ecological imbalance and degradation, it throws a few questions that need to be answered. Even if addressed, they need to be assessed.
The speech Chief Seattle made years ago was a response to the imperialistic attitude and the reckless acts carried out in the name of development. It questioned the rights of the natives or the red Indians which now represents people across the globe facing the wrath of the nature. The rapidly proliferating urban forests extending to the forest fringes, does a threat to the people and the ecological diversity that inhabit the land. Habitat fragmentation of our forests, the ruthless pumping of chemical cocktails, has changed the character of the soil, water and the forest cover which acts as natural shock absorbers. Our attitude has thrown all the things we take for granted at a toss. The impact of the Nature on the spaces we created for our convenience without respecting the ethos is catastrophic.
We can’t remain insensitive to our reality without triggering discussions that would lead to meaningful actions. How can you buy or sell the sky and the warmth of the land? will be a session at SPACES featuring environmental and social activists Laha Gopalan, C.K. Janu, Dhanya Raman and Sunny K. The ferocious mix of factors will be on table for discussion which will makes us reflect upon the speech and the reality the predictions have turned into.