Chief Seattle is often quoted, and always erroneously. The speech that he is famous for was written by Ted Perry, a screenwriter, for a 1972 film about ecology entitled Home.
You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the Earth is rich with the lives of our kin. Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the Earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.
This we know – the Earth does not belong to man – man belongs to the Earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.
Whatever befalls the Earth – befalls the sons of the Earth. Man did not weave the web of life – he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.
Another quote is sometimes attributed to Chief Seattle, but more often it is called an “Old Indian Proverb.”
We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.
This one was most likely said by environmentalist David Brower.