Posts Tagged ‘See-ahth’

American Indian Heritage Month ending

November 24, 2008

This is the last week of American Indian Heritage Month and I have seen nothing locally that would inform residents that this commemoration even exists let alone doing anything to honor it. For that matter I haven’t seen anything in the national media either. There may have been something but I didn’t see it. What with the Carlisle Indian School having been in our midst, one would think it would have at least been mentioned. If it wasn’t for the trusty internet, I wouldn’t know a thing about it.

One good thing I’ve learned is that the politically-correct terms have been sorted out. American Indian is preferred over Native American and the specific tribe or nation is preferred over that. Native American is too broad a term and, worse yet, sounds too bureaucratic. A pet peeve of mine is the frequent mention of something being a Native American song or a Native American custom. To start with, this is silliness. Would we say golf is a European game? Of course not. We know the Scots invented it. Would we lump Scots and Italians together as if they had a common heritage? I think not.

There may be reasons other than ignorance or laziness for attributing something to Native Americans. For example, Chief Seattle is often quoted as having spoken eloquently about the environment. To start with he was not a chief and his name was See-ahth, which was difficult for white people to say and was likely bastardized into Seattle, something they could pronounce. See-ahth was born in 1786 and died in 1866. In addition to being a great speaker, he was a diplomat. He gave a speech in 1854 but it wasn’t the one he is so often credited with having made. That speech was written in 1971 by screenwriter Ted Perry. Perry’s speech didn’t paraphrase See-ahth’s words. It couldn’t because there were no buffalo within 600 miles of his home to see rot and railroads didn’t come to his area until years after his death.

Rather than providing references, I will leave to the reader the task of verifying what I have written. Fortunately, it is an easy task.