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The “Letter to President Pierce, 1855” addresses the cultural differences between native tribes and white immigrants pertaining land and natural environment. In particular, the letter highlights the significance of land to the white immigrants and native tribes where the former put emphasis on commercial development while the latter prefer preserving the natural ecosystem. The author of the letter used different tones to convey their message to the audience. A tone can be used to entertain or to express the gravity of an issue aimed at provoking an in-depth scrutiny of the issue raised by the author. In the piece “Letter to President Pierce, 1855,” the author Chief Seattle adopts candid and belligerent tone aimed at capturing the attention of the President and the entire nation on land issues and environment conservation. In other terms, the letter was meant for consumption by the entire country in spite of being addressed specifically to the president. In the world of today, this action by the chief could be termed an act of activism.

To start with, Chief Seattle provides a truthful analysis of the differences in the value attached to land and natural environment between the white immigrants and native tribes. In fact, Chief Seattle starts the letter by saying “We know that the white man does not understand our ways” (Chief Seattle 1). He goes further to outline the fact the white immigrants attach monetary value to land with little regard to its cultural significance. In this case, cultural significance includes the relation and respect given to the dead. According to Chief Seattle, the white man does not respect the departed souls thus, after establishing building and industries in a particular area, he moves on to another undeveloped piece of land. In this particular instance, Chief Seattle refers to the rapid industrialization and urbanization that took place in the late mid-nineteenth century through to the early twentieth century. In addition, Chief Seattle also highlights the difference in the urban or the city environment and rural settings. In particular, he indicates that the white men do not appreciate the cool ambience of the rural settings. However, he claims that the Indian prefers clean air characterized by smells of pines and rain, which is also critical for his survival and that of other animals and plants. Undoubtedly, Chief Seattle raises an important issue, pollution that is a pertinent issue in modern times. In fact, he indicates the “white man” will eventually choke in his own waste. Indeed pollution has become a serious problem in the modern environment. The modern man is obsessed with developing modern structures and using the latest technologies at the expense of the environment.

Conversely, Chief Seattle also comes across as belligerent or combatant in the letter to the President. In particular, he uses several terms that highlight his abrasive nature. In the opening paragraph, the Chief describes the white immigrant as “a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs” (Chief Seattle 1). Without a doubt, the Chief refers to the white immigrant as a thief, which highlights his disgust with his actions. He also refers to the native tribes as savages to stress the differences between the native tribes and the white immigrants. In fact, Chief Seattle refers to his people as savages, which could be because of attitude and interactions with the white immigrants. Indeed, the native tribes placed emphasis on cultural beliefs and practices. They had not accessed formal education, which could have contributed to their frosty relations with the European immigrants in the United States. Therefore, the consistent reference of native savages could be a way of the Chief reminding the President of the attitude that the white men had towards members of the indigenous tribes in America. He is intent on highlighting the huge disconnect that existed between the indigenous tribes and the European immigrants. In addition, Chief Seattle expresses discontent with the cities that the white men have built on their land. Specifically, he says that the sight of the modern developments causes him discomfort. Obviously, the Chief and his people have not accepted and accommodated the white men on their land as the latter occupy their land illegally. Moreover, he goes on to belittle the developments made by the white immigrants and indicates that they will be the source of their destruction. He indicates that children of the native tribes shall outlive the extravagance and irresponsible behavior perpetuated by the white men, as they shall stick to their cultural practices. The Chief points at the constant conflicts that would more often than not result in bloody wars as the native tribes tried to chase the white men from their lands. However, the white men would defeat the native tribes because of their sophisticated weaponry and tactics. In the end, it is the natural environment that would suffer this aggressive pursuit of modernity by the white man.

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In conclusion, Chief Seattle’s letter to the President is truthful but at the same time combatant. It expresses the bad blood between the white men and the native tribes. Indeed, the Chief wanted to catch the attention of the President and other citizens and express the seriousness of the land issues in the country. Of course, the confrontational tone indicates the native tribes are ready to take measures to defend their lands and stop the unwarranted interference by the white men.

Works Cited

“Letter to the President, 1855”, Chief Seattle, 1855. Web 5 March 2016.

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