Chief Seattle

Refer also to these additional Resource Links:

Do Good Design For Good

Seattle assignment: First read the “Seattle” text below. (in this assignment I am using the word “text” to mean either a story , article or any other form of the written content). Understand what this text is talking about, when it was said, why and how it was said. This initial thorough understanding of any project is the single most important thing which will help you to design appropriately. This assignment requires you to successfully integrate three main areas of design;

  1. thematic development/interpretation within overall context
  2. sensitive and careful treatment of text with emphasis on readability and clarity
  3. effective use of the baseline and document grids for visual organization of elements and white space.

Make use of the same concepts of type treatment that affect the feeling and ultimate understanding of the written word that we explored to an extreme on the Dialog assignment. You are making choices about type on this assignment that will affect not only readability of those words but also how the reader “feels” about that that reading , about how they are understood.

The “Seattle” text will be used to supplement or give additional contextual meaning to some other text. You will need to add this additional text. The Chief Seattle speech  should relate to the main text in some way. It should compliment the main message by giving it contextual meaning. This might mean that the text you add tells the reader something in a general way and Chief Seattle’s words are given was an example to help explain the deeper meaning. For example, your additional text might be a contemporary issue where Seattle’s environmental message would compliment or add additional meaning. It is all about enhancing the underlying meaning by creating a dialogue of some sort between both texts.

The coal company came with the world’s largest shovel
And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land
Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken
Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man

—John Prine, “Paradise”


  1. First decide what your overall main topic is going to be. (environmental, conservation, land management, the natural environment, or a specific issue such as global warming, water, erosion, etc.)
  2. Then decide what you are going to make to deliver this message. (a book, pamphlet, website, animation, app, etc.)
  3. Finally decide how the Seattle speech will relate to the additional text that you have chosen. (interspersed with the main content as quotations, a separate “sidebar” of information, physically in the way your sequence or pages are designed, etc.)

Edit both texts in WS Word correcting basic spelling and grammatical errors, make ligature substitutions, correct dashes, typographic quotation marks, etc. Then import those texts into InDesign multipage layout (booklet, pamphlet, etc.) using the Place command according to the following design considerations:

  • You must make a Dummy or prototype!
  • Your inDesign document should be set with facing pages or single pages depending on how you plan to bind or assemble.
  • First design intuitively according to the following considerations. Once you have made decisions about typeface, size, leading and line length, then make your baseline and document grids.
  • Treat the text as a formal, important, and special message.
  • Consider the presentation of the whole piece (choice of paper, use of white space)
  • Emphasize readability over creating an “optical event”
  • Create visual connections between design elements such as heading and sub heads with the various forms of text type. Do this by using a baseline grid, forms of continuation, repetition with variation, alignment, nesting.
  • Consider how paper choice and binding will also affect the message. Free paper samples may be ordered from Sappi Paper.

Typographic Variables

Refer to the Typographic Variables link above as a checklist to remind you of the many choices/options in which you may alter text for reasons of grouping, hierarchy, readability and clarity.

  • Line length, typeface, leading, type size, & grouping.

Minimum Typographic Treatment

Refer to the Minimum Typographic Management link above as a general guide to begin your initial attention to typographic design.

  • Check spelling and grammar.
  • Consider where lines break, line length, and how these effect readability.
  • Avoid typographic “widows”.
  • Use correct dashes, apostrophes, and quotation marks.
  • Kern all display type. Kern all numerals and dates. Kern all dashes.
  • Avoid the default settings for leading, tracking, typesize.
  • Make use of margin space, diminuendo, ruled lines, pull quotes, proper punctuation marks, kerning, leading, dingbats, ligatures, font styles and sizes where appropriate to your design for emphasis and improved readability.
  • Create a special document not a “government report”.

The goal here is classic typography—tasteful, graceful, elegant. Presenting the material in an extremely readable fashion devoid of purely decorative elements distracting from this purpose will be among the most important typographic variables for you to consider. Think of this piece as a very special document on the order of the Magna Carta, Declaration of Independence, or Constitution. With that in mind, you are not trying to visually reproduce an old-looking document. Instead, these are simply references to the magnitude of importance of the words that these documents contain.

Effective use of an underlying grid is critical in making this happen. It  makes more sense to most designers to work intuitively first—what looks good to you, balanced, in harmony. Secondly, create and apply a baseline grid and document grid where the grid increments are based upon the leading of your text type. Then use the grid to fine tune your intuitively created layout. Basic steps to do this are:

  • Intuitively create your layout
  • Open up the leading on your text type to at least the next largest whole, even number (it must be a whole even number)
  • Create the grid settings based on this leading number by going to inDesign Preferences>>Grids
  • Adjust the sizing and spacing of all elements to fit the grid

You may add an image, dingbat or other graphic elements to compliment your layout, but first and foremost the message must be communicated typographically. Your design may be in black and white or color, your choice. The size, paper, and choice of binding of the piece is also up to you. Design it!

(use the text below)

Brother Eagle, Sister Sky a message from Chief Seattle How can you buy the sky how can you own the rain and the wind? My mother told me, every part of this earth is sacred to our people. Every pine needle. Every sandy shore. Every mist in the dark woods. Every meadow and humming insect. All are holy in the memory of our people. My father said to me, I know the sap that courses through the trees as I know the blood that flows in my veins. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters. The bear, the deer, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the meadows, the ponies–all belong to the same family. The voice of my ancestors said to me, The shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not simply water, but the blood of your grandfather‘s grandfather. Each ghostly reflection in the clear waters of the lakes tells of memories in the life of our people. The water’s murmur is the voice of your great-great-grandmother. The rivers are our brothers. They quench our thirst. They carry our canoes and feed our children. You must give to the rivers the kindness you would give to any brother. The voice of my grandfather said to me, The air is precious. It shares its spirit with all the life it supports. The wind that gave me my first breath also received my last sigh. You must keep the land and air apart and sacred, as a place where one can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow flowers. When the last Red Man and Woman have vanished with their wilderness, and their memory is only a shadow of a cloud moving across the prairie, will the shores and forest still be here? Will there be any of the spirit of my people left? My ancestors said to me, This we know: The earth does not belong to us. We belong to the earth. The voice of my grandmother said to me, Teach your children what you have been taught. The earth is our mother. What befalls the earth befalls all the sons and daughters of the earth. Hear my voice and the voice of my ancestors, The destiny of your people is a mystery to us. What will happen when the buffalo are all slaughtered? The wild horses tamed? What will happen when the secret corners of the forest are heavy with the scent of many men? When the view of the ripe hills is blotted by talking wires? Where will the thicket be? Gone. Where will the eagle be? Gone! And what will happen when we say good-bye to the swift pony and the hunt? It will be the end of living, and the beginning of survival. This we know: All things are connected like the blood that unites us. We did not weave the web of life; we are merely a strand in it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. We love this earth as a newborn loves its mother‘s heartbeat. If we sell you our land, care for it as we have cared for it. Hold in your memory of the land, as it is when you receive it. Preserve the land and the air and the rivers for your children’s children and love it as we have loved it.


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