“A sign might not seem like a big deal, but a sign is everything.” That’s how Southwest Seattle Historical Society executive director Clay Eals kicked off a media briefing this morning next to the sign you see above – one of four now in place on the low and high West Seattle Bridges, marking the waterway they span, which carries the name of our area’s First People.
That’s our video of the entire event, held along the bicycle/pedestrian path on the “low bridge” alongside its control tower. Eals explained that the signage was first suggested about a year ago at the launch of a photography book called “Once and Future River” and was shepherded by City Councilmember Lisa Herbold. She did not attend this morning’s briefing, but Eals was joined on the bridge by two well-known members of the Duwamish Tribe. Ken Workman, member of the Duwamish Tribal Council, is great-great-great-great-grandson of Chief Seattle, and noted that the sign is over the stretch of the river where his family once had a longhouse:
James Rasmussen is coordinator of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition:
Both acknowledged and hailed the significance of the signage – a small yet mighty form of recognition, even as the tribe continues battling for federal recognition of its existence and treaty rights, which Workman said is a matter once again in Bureau of Indian Affairs review. Rasmussen also talked about the ongoing river cleanup, with which the DRCC is deeply involved, and voiced concern about how the new administration in Washington, D.C., will affect the cleanup. It’s half-done, he said, and that’s no time to stop. He is currently most concerned about the Pollutant Loading Assessment in the watershed, which is suddenly looking for help with “modeling” – “the project right now is basically stopped” without that help, he explained, and in need of more funding.
P.S. You can take personal action to help the Duwamish River, two weeks from tomorrow – it’s the spring edition of the Duwamish Alive! planting/cleanup events held concurrently at many spots along the river and in its watershed, 10 am-2 pm April 22nd – go here to find out how to help.
P.P.S. Though he didn’t take a turn at the podium, the “Once and Future River” photographer Tom Reese was at the briefing too:
Rasmussen also contributed an afterword to the book, which is available through UW Press.