Chief Seattle Speech Questions and Answers ICSE Class 9 and Class 10

Extract Based Questions

Read the extracts given below and answer the questions that follow.

Extract – I

There was a time when our people covered the land as the waves of a wind-ruffled sea cover its shell-paved floor, but that time long since passes away with the greatness of tribes that are now but a mournful memory. I will not dwell on, nor mourn over, our untimely decay, nor reproach my paleface brothers with hastening it, as we too may have been somewhat to blame.

Question 1 : What does the extract imply?

Answer : The chief in the extract is remembering the time when red Indians had the hold over the vast land. But over the years their power and hold on the land had reduced remarkably. Native Americans themselves and their leaders are primarily responsible for this reduced hold on their vast lands.

Question 2 : Explain with a metaphor how Chief Seattle compares the Natives and the Whites.

Answer : Chief Seattle says that the Whites were large in number and are like the green grass that covers vast prairies-the grasslands of America whereas the Natives are very few. They resemble trees which are less in numbers.

Question 3 : Which offer is being referred here? How does he find the preposition?

Answer : Here, the offer made by the Whites is to buy the lands that belong to Natives with the promised that their brave army will protect the Natives from their ancient enemies. The proposition appears to be kind and generous as the Red Native do not have rights over these lands. Moreover, as Native Americans are less in number and are no more powerful as they used to be, they should accept the offer.

Question 4 : Why does the Chief become sentiment? What is he talking about the buying of land?

Answer : The Chief becomes sentimental remembering about the time when the Red Indians had complete hold those vast lands. Those memories and culture of his tribe is something that cannot be forgotten. Moreover, Earth is not man’s property. It is for everyone to use it. The idea of buying or selling the land makes the Chief very emotional.

Question 5 : Why does Chief Seattle mean by untimely decay? Why does he use his phrase?

Answer : In the present story, Chief Seattle is addressing his people. He reminds the natives about the greatness of the tribe that are now only a memory as over the years, their power and numbers both had come down tremendously. The word ‘Untimely Decay’ here means the lessening of the power of the Red Indians for which they themselves were also responsible. The natives, specially the young ones were quite violent and indulged revengeful acts, but as White men were more powerful as large in number the youths lost their lives before time.

Extract – II

Youth is impulsive. When our young men grow angry at some real or imaginary wrong and disfigure their faces with black paint, it denotes that their hearts are black and that they are often cruel and relentless and our old men and old women are unable to restrain them. Thus, it has ever been. Thus, it was when the White man began to push our forefathers ever westward. But let up hope that the hostilities between us may never return. We would have everything to lose and nothing to gain.

Question 1 : What do the young men do when they are angry?  What do they want to indicate by doing this?

Answer : Chief Seattle calls the young men of his tribe impulsive who have no control over the anger. They react over some real or imaginary wrong being done to them, by disfiguring their faces with black paint. They think this to be a sign of their aggression and prowess (courageousness).

Question 2 : Why do the young men blacken their faces with paint? Why do they want to take revenge?

Answer : The young men want to take revenge of the wrong done to their forefathers. They are always ready to take up a fight over a real or imaginary problem, their aggression and power to the enemies, they blacken their faces with paint demonstrating they blacken their faces with paint demonstrating their impulsiveness, cruelty and revengeful nature.

Question 3 : What does Seattle feel about disfiguring the face by the youth? Why he not like it?

Answer : Seattle felt that when their youths disfigured their faces by painting black, they were being cruel and uncontrollable and react irrationally. They did not listen to their elders or the women. Seattle does not like this revengeful nature led to their own untimely departure from this world as their enemy was more powerful and strong.

Question 4 : What does the Chief hope for? What will be the effect of reconciliation on his people?

Answer : The Chief hopes that enmity between the Red Indians and the White Americans may end forever. If Red Indians surrender their lands to the White, they would be protected and their women and children could live peacefully. The brave soldiers of White Americans would provide them much needed strength and protection. As a result, due to friendly relations with the Whites, the natives may progress and lead a peaceful life.

Question 5 : Why does Chief Seattle want an end to these hostilities between the Natives and the Whites?

Answer : Chief Seattle wants an end to to the hostilities as he is aware of the fact that the Whites are large in numbers whereas his tribesmen are lesser in number. Moreover, it is better to progress in their company rather than fight with them. Here, the Chief is being practical as the Red Indians could gain nothing by fighting against large army of the Whites. Moreover, they will be provided protection so that native Indians could live peacefully without any fear of their fierce ancient enemies.

Extract – III

Your religion was written upon tablets of stone by the iron finger of your God so that you could not forget it. The Red Men could never comprehend or remember it. Our religion is the traditions of our ancestors – the dreams of our old men, given them is solemn hours of the night by the Great Spirit; and the visions of our sachems and is written in the hearts of our people.

Question 1 : What opinion does Seattle have about the religion of the White Men?

Answer : Chief Seattle thinks that the religion of the White men was written on tablets of stone by the iron finger of God. God has done so that his message may not be erased and his people remember it throughout their life. The message is something that the Red people cannot understand so they are unable to remember it.

Question 2 : What is the Natives’ religion. What does it constitute?

Answer : According to Chief Seattle the Native’s religion is the tradition of their ancestors. It constitutes the visions and dreams which were dreams by the old people. These visions were provided to these old people by Great Spirits in the peaceful nights. People remember those dreams and it was written only in the hearts of people, not in any book or stones.

Question 3 : Compare the religion of the White men with that of the Natives.

Answer : The White men’s religion was Christianity and it was written by the God symbolising strict adherence to the rule as laid down by the supreme. The religion of the Natives was different from the White man as it was not written anywhere, it was there in their hearts. Their religion is following of the traditions as laid down by their ancestors who were given visions by the Great spirits.

Question 4 : How can you conclude that the Natives are more dependent on their ancestors that the White men?

Answer : The Natives/tribal people follow the religion as laid down by their ancestors. The White people are indifferent to their ancestors and they keep themselves away from their resting ground. They neglect them and pay no respect to them whereas the natives respect their ancestors and consider their graves sacred.

Question 5 : Why are the White people indifferent to their ancestors? What is the religion of the Natives?

Answer : Unlike the Natives whose religion is the tradition of their ancestors, the religion of the White people was written by God himself. It is not forgotten and does not inspire or compell them to accompany their dead forefathers so they keep themselves away from their graves.

Extract – IV

Your dead cease to love you and the land of their 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 dear never forget this beautiful world that gave them being. They still love its verdant valleys, its murmuring rivers, its magnificent mountains, sequestered vales and verdant lined lakes and bays, and ever yearn in tender fond affection over the lonely hearted living, and often return from the happy hunting ground to visit, guide, console, and comfort them.

Question 1 : When do the dead of the White men cease to love their land and their people?

Answer : The dead of the White men cease to love them as soon as they pass the portals of tomb because according to the religion of White people, their dead carry no responsibility and attachment with their living people. So once gone, they are soon forgotten.

Question 2 : What is the attitude of the White people towards their dead ancestors?

Answer : They are indifferent towards their ancestors. They neglected them and pay not respect to them. No sooner do they  die, they forget about them because their dead ones do not return to accompany them in their joy and misery.

Question 3 : On the other hand, what do the dead of the Native man do their living?

Answer : The dead of the Native man never forget their native land where they lived. They still love its grassy valleys, its murmuring rivers, its magnificent mountains. They love their living people. They keep visiting their land and guide console and comfort their tribe people.

Question 4 : What proposal is put forward to the Natives by the Great Chief? What will they get in return?

Answer : The proposal which has been put forward by the great Chief i.e. George Washington is that if Natives surrender or sell their land to the White settlers, his army will provide them protection and save them from their ancient enemies. The White Chief’s brave soldiers will provide the much needed security to the natives and his ships will fill the harbours, so that no enemy could attack them.

Question 5 : How does Chief Seattle react to the proposition sent by Whites? What will it do in their favour?

Answer : Chief Seattle is appreciative about the proposition. He suggests his people to accept this as it seems fair. It may end the hostilities between the two races and provide the protection from their ancient enemies. It will open the path of their progress and prosperity. The youth of the tribe will have a purpose in their life rather than hatred that misled them and they waste their energy and time in hostility.

Extract – V

A Few more moons, a few more winters, and not one of the descendants of the mighty hosts that once moved over this broad land or lived in happy homes, protected by the Great Spirit, will remain to mourn over the graves of the people once more powerful and hopeful than yours. But why should I mourn at the untimely fate of my people? Tribe follows tribe, and nation follows nation, like the waves of the sea. It is the order of the nature, and regret is useless. Your time of decay may be distant, but it will surely come, for even the White Man whose God walked and talked with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We will see.

Question 1 : How does the speaker differentiate his tribal people from the White people?

Answer : Chief says that these are two distinct races with separate origins and separate destinies. There is little common between them. Their religion is different moreover their attitude towards their ancestors is also different.

Question 2 : What is Chief Seattle expecting about his tribe?

Answer : As the number of the tribal men is decreasing day by day, Chief Seattle is concerned that soon his tribe will disappear from the land as no one from his tribe will remain to mourn over the graves of their dead people.

Question 3 : Why should Chief Seattle not mourn now? How does nature flow?

Answer : While assuming the doom of his tribe, Chief Seattle ceases to reconsider this thought and realises that it is useless to mourn over untimely decay of his tribe. Nature flows like the waves of sea hence cannot be tamed so should be respected and no mourn should be done to change its course.

Question 4 : What does the Chief comment on order of nature?

Answer : The Chief comment that tribe follows tribe and nation follows nation like the waves of the sea. It is the order of the nature and regret is useless. The power of nature cannot be challenged. It is nature that decides the fate of humans and their existence. Anyone who rises to glory is also doomed to decay.

Question 5 : What according to Chief Seattle is common destiny of both races? Why does he think so?

Answer : According to the Chief, common destiny of both races will be the ultimate decay. It is the rule of nature, non one can challenge it. According to the Chief every tribe, culture that has risen to the heights of glory would definitely meet its downfall one day. So, both races of Native Red Indians as well as of White Settlers will meet their doom sooner or later. Seattle believes that a time will come when glory of the Whites will also come down and they will be moving towards their inevitable doom.

Extract – VI

We will ponder your proposition and when we decide we will let you know. But should we accept it, I here and now make this condition that we will not be denied the privilege without molestation of visiting at any time the tombs of our ancestors, friends and children. Every part of this soil is sacred in the estimation of my people. Ever hillside, every valley, every plain and grove, has been hallowed by some sad or happy event in days long vanished. Even the rocks, which seem to be dumb and dead as they swelter in the sun along the silent shore, thrill with memories of stirring events connected with the lives of my people, and the very dust upon which you now stand responds more lovingly to their footsteps than yours, because it is rich with the blood of our ancestors, and our bare feet are conscious of sympathetic touch.

Question 1 : Why is the speaker ready to consider the proposition of the White father? What hope does he foresee?

Answer : Though the past with the White people has been bitter, the speaker is ready to consider their proposition of buying their land. He sees a new ray of hope in the form of progress and protection from foreign enemies.

Question 2 : What is the condition that the Speaker puts forward before taking the decision on the White man’s proposition?

Answer : The condition is that the Natives will have freedom to visit the graveyards of their ancestors, friends and children, without being molested by the new land owners. This proposition shows that he does not want to compromise with the freedom of his people.

Question 3 : How is every part of the soil sacred to his tribal people?

Answer : Every part of the soil is sacred to his tribal people because it is associated with sad or happy events of the by gone days. The soil of the land, even the mute rocks which face the burning seen are full of memories of heart warming memories related to the lives of ancestors of tribal people.

Question 4 : Why does the rocks seem to him be thrilled? What have they witnessed?

Answer : The rocks of the lands too have witnessed the greatness of the dead ancestors, their sad moments and their happiness. The hot rocks also get thrilled by the activities of the tribal people. It is just the imagination of the Chief, who believes that all parts of nature remains a witness to the sad or happy events which have taken place earlier.

Question 5 : How does the dust respond?

Answer : The dust responds lovingly to the footsteps of the tribal people as it is rich with the blood of the ancestors of the tribal people. Generations come and go but the dust on which the people are standing remains the same and witnesses the devotion and valour of the people. So the touch of the natives’ feet excites it and in response it showers love.

Short Questions

Question 1 : While talking about the buying of land, why did Chief Seattle become emotional? Elucidate.

Answer : Chief Seattle took it as an unusual thing to sell or buy land. He believed that these natural resources did not belong to any particular race or tribe. These were God’s gift to mankind. He and his people shared an emotional relationship with the land as they had been sheltered by this land for generations. They had developed an undying affection towards it and just thought of it being the property of the Whites caused great pain to him.

Question 2 : Why do the people regard themselves as orphans? What does God of the Whites do?

Answer : The tribal people feel that God of White people loves His own people and hates them. He has abandoned them and does not protect them. The White man’s God showers His love on His people and gives protection to them. Thus, tribal people regarded themselves as orphans.

Question 3 : If both the races had a common God, how should He be?

Answer : If both the races had a common God, he would be fair towards both the communities. He would love and shower his blessings equally. He would actually not be biased. He will deprive neither community of his love and protection. He would give strength and would punish equally.

Question 4 : How does the Chief differentiate between tribal people and White people? What does he say about the religion of both the races?

Answer : The Chief says that the tribal people and White people are two distinct races with separate origins and separate destinies. There is little common between the two. Moreover the religion of the White people is different from that of the tribal people. The White man’s religion was written up on tablets of stone by the iron fingers of their God.

Question 5 : Why did Chief Seattle say about the common destiny for all races?

Answer : Chief Seattle could very easily understand the pain of his tribe, he could hear their sad voices. He believed that tribe and nature followed each other and both were like two sides of the same coin. He further remarked that White people could not escape decay for a long time. He thought that death is inevitable and nobody could play hide and seek with it. When he observed that tribe follows tribe, and nation follows nation, he realised that he should not mourn at the untimely fate of his tribe because it was the order of the nature.

Question 6 : How is every part of the soil sacred to his tribal people? What memories the Native cherish with the land?

Answer : Every part of the soil is sacred to Natives because they are deeply connected with that soil. It is sacred to them as they have some sweet, sour and bitter unforgettable memories with that place. Due to this association of some past events of life every hillside, every valley, every plain and grave is sacred to the Natives.

Question 7 : Comment on the title Chief Seattle’s speech? Is it as per the theme of the story?

Answer : The title is very appropriate because the speech delivered by Seattle at Washington in 1854, deals with the speakers views about the White people. He thanks the White Chief for acknowledging the greetings of friendship and goodwill. He speaks in favour of ecological responsibility and respect of Native American’s land rights. He wants the White people to be just and kind to his tribal people.

Long Questions

Question 1 : On what basis the two races are entirely different from each other according to Chief Seattle?

Answer : Chief Seattle was disturbed at the loss of his ancestral land as the Whites were offering to buy their land. He believes that God of both the races is not the same God. According to him, both races were different on many counts. They are as follows:

Religion of the Natives : He and his tribal people had their ancestors in great esteem. He adds that the tribal people regard the ashes of their ancestors as sacred. The religion of the tribal people is based upon the traditions left by their ancestors.

Religion of the Whites : The White people are indifferent to their ancestors and they keep themselves away from the graves of their ancestors. The religion of the White people was written upon the tablets of stone by the iron finger of their God so that they do not forget it.

Ignorance of God : The Chief feels sceptical about one thing. He feels that the God of the White people loves his own people and hates the tribal people and therefore cannot be their God. He has abandoned His tribal people. The Chief then refers to his own God, the great spirit, that also seems to have abandoned them.

Difference between the Population : One more thing that concerns him a lot is the difference between the population of both the races. The population of the Whites is larger than that of the Natives. His people’s number is decreasing rapidly and very soon they will disappear from this sacred land of their forefathers. He realises that the nature of the land also blesses his people because they have been the part of it for generations and will remain so even after their death. The Whites are indifferent to the nature and are alien to the land, will never be able to attend the blessings of it as do the Natives.

Question 2 : Critically appreciate Chief Seattle speech? How was he successful to impress his audience with his oratory excellence?

Answer : Seattle’s speech that he delivered at Washington, in 1854 is marked by brilliant oratory. Given below are the points that appreciates Chief Seattle’s speech excellency.

An Excellent Orator : In his speech he is logical and argumentative. He gives forceful arguments in favour of ecological responsibility and respect of the Native American’s land rights. His oration is brilliant and straightforward. He strikes a note of reconciliation between his tribal people and the White people in a direct and straightforward manner.

Advocacy of Peace : He advocates Peace and does not want the hostilities that existed between the White people and the tribal people to return. He is wise, profound and philosophical. Chief Seattle’s speech is marked by philosophical notes. He remarks “day and night cannot dwell together. The red man has ever fled the approach of the White man, as the morning mist before the morning sun.”

Attachment towards Land : When he makes mention of his attachment towards his land and his long dead elders in his speech, the readers/audience realise his devotion and love for them. His speech also showers a ray of hope for his people who according to him, will be benefitted by the proposition made to them by the White Man. He gives an ironical touch to his speech by assuming that their existence will become a myth after the last of them passes away, even then the place will be crowded by their soul as they will never cease to love this land.

Question 3 : Comment on the hostilities that existed between the tribal people and the White people. What solution does Seattle find to put an end to hostilities?

Answer : Chief Seattle was the most prominent figure of his tribe, an excellent orator and philosopher.

Appeal to his People : In his speech he appeals his people to end the hostilities between them and the Whites. He makes them aware to have found the permanent solution to this, in the form of the proposition to acquire their land by the White man by sitting in Washington. He fears that the hostilities cherished by the youth of his tribe will churn not profit but their destruction while the proposal that is being offered to them will not only stop this madness of self-elimination but also provide them protection from their ancient enemies.

The Old Hostilities : Chief Seattle recollects the time when the White men began to push their forefathers westward. There were hostilities between them. He wishes that these hostilities may never return. The young men would like to take revenge but the old tribal people are wise and would never like to resume the hostilities towards the Whites.

His Hope from the White Father : He hopes that their good father in Washington would protect them and his brave warriors would prove to be a great wall of strength against the ancient enemies who frighten their women, children and the old men. Then in reality he would be their father and they would be his children.

His Optimism : Although he is conscious of the fact that they are two distinct races with separate origins and separate destinies, yet he strikes a note of optimism when he says that his people would accept the new proposition sent by the the White man because it seems to be fair and reasonable.

Question 4 : What conditions were made by Chief Seattle before accepting the proposal of White Chief for buying the land? Why was he contacted about his people’s rights?

Answer : Before accepting the proposal sent by the White’s Chief, Seattle has put forward some conditions. They are as follows.

Hope for Reconciliation : He delivers a speech in which he strikes a note of reconciliation between his tribal people and the White people. He strikes a hope in his speech that their good father in Washington would protect them and his brave warriors would prove to be a great wall of strength against their ancient enemies.

Hope from the Proposition : Seattle compares his tribe with the wounded doe that hears the approaching footsteps of the hunter in the form of White Settlers. He knows that his race would extinct in the coming years. So he has no other alternative except accepting the proposal of giving away their ancestral land.

Reaction of His People : He hopes that his people will react favourably to the proposition and accept it. He feels the proposition to be honest and in the welfare of his people yet he is quite alert through his past experience with the Whites. By acquiring their lands, the White people will become their ultimate owners and will be free to enforce their rules and laws of theirs may affect the newly earned harmony between the two races and even may go against the sentiment of the tribal people.

The Condition : To avert all kinds of forthcoming unwanted situation he puts a condition before they take a decision. He wants his people to have freedom to visit the graves of their ancestors, friends and children at any time. Besides they should also be given a special area where they could live peacefully with all their rites, rituals and other cultural practices.

Question 5 : What message do we get from Chief Seattle’s speech?

Answer : Chief Seattle, who belonged to the suquamish tribe, through his speech becomes successful to impress his audience. Given below are the points that give detail about the message from Chief Seattle’s speech.

Firmness of Promise : Through his speech, Chief Seattle, the first and the foremost message that he wants to showcase, is that his words are not were words, instead once spoken they become certain as the coming of the sun and the next season. Whatever is spoken by him, should be persumed true and permanent without any doubt.

Message of Peace : He wants to convey that hostilities between White people and his tribal people should end because it will lead to destruction. In this speech, he strikes a reconciliation between his tribal people and the White people. He also puts forward his argument in favour of ecological responsibility and respect of Native American’s land rights.

His Determination and Intelligence : His speech also exhibits his determination and intelligence. He puts the condition that his people will be allowed to visit the tombs of their forefathers, friends and children without being molested, making it clear that his determination and intelligence cannot be questioned or challenged.

Proud of His People : He sys that his people respect their religion, culture, traditions and ancestors. He eulogies his people, land and traditions and shows great dignity while speaking about them. He strikes a note of optimism when he says that his people will accept the new proposition sent by the White man because it seems to be fair. He concludes on a hopeful note that his people will be free to visit the graves of their ancestors.