Chief Seattle's 1854 Oration Was It True?

578 words - 2 pages

Chief Seattle, leader of the Duwamish tribe, was author of the famous speech to Washington Governor Stevens upon his arrival to Seattle in 1854. However, many doubt Chief Seattle's speech to have taken place. There is little credible evidence available to back up the existence of the speech with the exception of a newspaper article written by a Doctor Henry A. Smith. The article, titled "Chief Seattle's Speech," was published in the "Seattle Sunday Star" on October 27th, 1887. If Doctor Smith was witness to Chief Seattle's epic speech, he was the sole translator. How are we to know that translation faults and liberations were not made by Doctor Smith? The Duwamish language was not a written language, having no alphabet, thus no official record or writing could have been made. For these reasons, it is highly probable Chief Seattle's Oration of 1854 never existed. The first and only published account of Chief Seattle's Oration was written in the "Seattle Sunday Star" on October 27th, 1887. The author of the article, Doctor Henry Smith, was said to have been a witness at the speech and served as a translator for Chief Seattle; however, no official document of this account exists in any historical archive. Chief Seattle's speech has been widely cited in numerous books and documents, but every citation leads back to Doctor Smith's article. Therefore, the only proof available that this speech ever occurred is the newspaper article dating back to 1887 from this one source. If we are to give the benefit of the doubt to Doctor Henry Smith as having been...

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