VIDEO: Mayor acknowledges Duwamish Tribe, answers community questions @ South Park town hall

(WSB photos. Above, mayor with Duwamish Tribe member and local historian Ken Workman)

Once word got out two days ago that Mayor Jenny Durkan had scheduled a pop-up town hall/resource fair in South Park, the Duwamish Tribe sent a request to supporters:

Come and stand in solidarity with the Duwamish Tribe and add your voice to those requesting Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan support the Duwamish Tribe and acknowledge them as the first people of Seattle.

The mayor did just that, twice, while speaking and answering questions at the South Park Community Center. We recorded her entire appearance on video:

No open-mic questioning at the town hall – city staffers invited attendees to write questions on cards, and chose which ones to ask the mayor, who spoke with Spanish interpretation. We estimated at least 100 in attendance.

The subject of affordable housing came up multiple times. The mayor acknowledged concerns about displacement, insisting that she wanted to ensure that redevelopment “doesn’t push people out of the community … we want to help keep the community here and be your partners.” She invoked the plan to include “community preference” in some housing developments as an anti-displacement tool. (She also acknowledged the presence of two city councilmembers who have led on the issue, Lisa Herbold – whose district includes South Park – and Kshama Sawant.)

The mayor said that while “we want to build as much (housing) as we can, we wan it to be for the people in this community in a way that doesn’t add to gentrification and displacement.” She also said it’s important to have a “pathway for the community to own property in South Park.”

Asked about improving bus service to South Park, she acknowledged the concern but made no commitments, noting only that she had met a day earlier with new SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe to discuss how to “improve transit, biking, pedestrian” conditions “in every part of the city.”

What about a police precinct for South Park (which is served by the Southwest Precinct)? The mayor said that wasn’t anything she had discussed with SPD Chief Carmen Best, but she agreed a “consistent presence” mattered. Asked a bit later about a specific unsolved murder, she brought up Deputy Chief Marc Garth Green (at left in our photo with SW Precinct Capt. Pierre Davis):

Garth Green said the case in question was mostly awaiting DNA-evidence analysis and noted that some other cases already had resulted in arrests.

Community concerns were the subject of other questions, such as the hopes for a community-centric plaza and uncertainty about the South Park Neighborhood Center‘s future. Again, acknowledgments from the mayor, but no promises.

She repeated the Duwamish Tribe acknowledgment while answering a question about South Park’s pollution challenges, particularly air quality, saying air and water had been clean before their lands were taken away.

After a few more questions – including one about “missing middle” housing, which she said could be encouraged in a variety of ways – she wrapped up, cheerily declaring, “Let’s have a great summer!”, then lingering a while for one-on-one conversation.

12 Replies to "VIDEO: Mayor acknowledges Duwamish Tribe, answers community questions @ South Park town hall"

  • Mike May 31, 2019 (7:03 am)

    When the Duwamish get their ancestors artifacts back, then Durkans words will have meaning.

    • Neighbor May 31, 2019 (8:41 am)

      Can you elaborate on this? Are their artifacts something the mayor has in her possession or control? (Asking sincerely; I genuinely don’t know what the connection is between the artifacts and the mayor.)

    • Ron Swanson May 31, 2019 (10:38 am)

      Mike, that’s up to the Muckleshoot, not the mayor.  

    • Mike June 1, 2019 (8:54 am)

      It’s almost like there’s an election coming up and our local politicians want to be seen in a positive light.  Sadly they only do that when they want something for themselves.  Why did it take her so long to meet and recognize the Duwamish members? I said before, all she’s got are words.  Worthless, just like the Treaty of Point Elliott.  Don’t fall for the spectacle.

  • Jeff Encke May 31, 2019 (10:47 am)

    FYI – Ken Workman, the man shown in the first photo with Mayor Durkan, is the great-great-great-great grandson of Chief Seattle.

  • Duwamesque May 31, 2019 (6:10 pm)

    The Duwamish tribe has waited over 150 years for an acknowledgement of their status. They currently have no legal tribal designation on a federal or local level. A step in the right direction I hope but long overdue and so much more they deserve. They were on this land for thousands of years and helped the first white settlers establish the fleshing colony we now know as Seattle. These people deserve better.

    • The King May 31, 2019 (7:25 pm)

      Yes the Natives do deserve better. Just getting state recognition is a tough task because local and state officials understand this is the first step toward federal recognition. They worry about federal due to land claims, gaming rights and losing tax revenue on the land. While the mayor says things that go against some of our past officials like Ken Eikenberry or Slade Gorton who were openly against Native sovereignty, she knows it’s a long shot to getting recognition. 

  • Don Brubeck May 31, 2019 (6:20 pm)

    Thank you, Mayor Durkan, for the long overdue recognition of the Duwamish Tribe by the city named after a great chief of the Duwamish and Suquamisb people .  Let’s hope that this recognition leads to more support and cooperation by the city government with the Duwamish people.

  • David M. Buerge June 4, 2019 (7:13 pm)

    It’s really nice that Mayor Durkan talked with Ken Workman of the Duwamish Tribe.  Ken is a fine man, and this is a good step.  But why does she still refuse to talk to Cecile Hansen, the Chairwoman of the Duwamish Tribe?  Cecile Hansen has been asking to meet with her and every other Mayor of Seattle for a formal sit down for the last 40+ years to no avail, and many other people have been asking the Mayor to do so.  Why is this proving to be so difficult for Jenny Durkan who claims she cares about people?  Here is a people that has been screwed by the City of Seattle for 150 years.  I should think they would be high on her list of people to care about.I read recently that the City of Seattle has spent the equivalent of $8 million to make the seawall on Elliott Bay more eco-friendly to Chinook salmon–definitely a good thing.  If the city can do this for fish, why can’t its mayor talk with the chairwoman of the Duwamish tribe who is not asking for a penny, just a talk one on one?  Or is it like one of the above responders said: it’s approaching election time and politicians need good visuals.    David M. Buerge

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