before dissemination of the Torah and the Christian era,
think about these things very differently.
Chief Sealth, after whom Seattle was named, gave a speech in the presence of Washington Governor Isaac Stevens in the mid-1850s that
speaks eloquently to Native people’s beliefs about what
happens after death. 2
To us the ashes of our ancestors are sacred and their resting place is hallowed ground. You wander far from the graves of your ancestors and seemingly without regret.
Your dead cease to love you and the land of their
We will not be denied the privilege without
nativity as soon as they pass the portals of the
tomb and wander away beyond the stars. They
are soon forgotten and never return. Our
dead never forget this beautiful world that
gave them being.
molestation of visiting at any time the
tombs of our ancestors, friends, and children.
Every part of this soil is sacred in the estima-
tion of my people.
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.
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.
I don’t know about you, but that sentiment comforts me.
Border Art Courtesy Anthony Jones
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 .