FOLLOWUP: West Seattle Bridge columns tribal-art project returning to City Council committee

(Image from last December’s council-committee agenda, incorporating Google Maps photo)

Three months ago, outgoing City Councilmembers shelved consideration of a plan to pay the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe and Suquamish Tribe $133,000 for murals on up to 15 columns under the West Seattle Bridge – a mile from the Duwamish Tribe‘s Longhouse, funded with money left over in the bridge-repair project. In response to community concerns, then-Councilmember Lisa Herbold elicited SDOT acknowledgment that there had been no outreach to the Duwamish Tribe regarding the prospective pillar art, and a Transportation Committee vote was delayed at her request. According to the agenda published this afternoon, the proposal returns this Tuesday (March 5) to the committee, now chaired by Herbold’s District 1 successor, Councilmember Rob Saka. (The committee’s previous chair, Alex Pedersen, like Herbold, chose not to run for re-election last year.) Three of the committee’s other four members are new to the council as well.

Nothing in the agenda materials for Tuesday’s meeting indicates anything has changed since the December committee meeting at which the vote was postponed. In response to concerns about not involving the Duwamish Tribe in this project, SDOT reps mentioned at the December meeting that the Duwamish would be involved in a different art project closer to the Longhouse. They had few details to offer when we followed up at the time; that project has since been revealed to involve a stretch of sidewalk. Here’s an image the tribe included in an email to its members regarding a planning event for the sidewalk project:

Tuesday’s committee meeting is at 9:30 am at City Hall; it’ll include public comment, in person and remote, and the agenda explains how to participate. Other scheduled topics include an update on the newly released Seattle Transportation Plan and a State of the Bridges” briefing.

17 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: West Seattle Bridge columns tribal-art project returning to City Council committee"

  • Tae March 2, 2024 (2:01 am)

    Come on City Council. The columns are not on the Muckleshoot or Squamish land, it is on Duwamish land. Oh right they will get small sidewalk space vs 15 columns, it should all go to the Duwamish. It’s bad enough that the Federal govt keeps disrespecting the Duwamish but Seattle? We can do better.

  • Fiz March 2, 2024 (7:27 am)


  • Jay March 2, 2024 (8:40 am)

    Using money left over from the bridge repair project? The bridges aren’t even repaired and they are already talking about siphoning money away from them? How about fixing the bridges that have been in disrepair for decades first. If you want to do art projects then have a fundraiser. 

    • Derp March 3, 2024 (10:25 am)

      This money is from the West Seattle Bridge project. Not taking money from other bridges.  

  • Tired of the BS March 2, 2024 (12:21 pm)

    Rob Saka – Save the money for infrastructure repair.  It was earmarked for bridge repair, I’m sure they can use it for its intended use without too much trouble.

  • WSCurmudgeon March 2, 2024 (12:44 pm)

    To those of you new to the West Seattle Peninsula,  this issue of who gets grants to create indigenous public art likely seems strange. It is only the tip of a very large argument over which tribal organization represents the people who claim to be the descendants of the Duwamish, who were the indigenous people who lived on the land we now call Seattle before the settler colonialists arrived here in the mid 19th C.  Most of the previous posts appear to support the claims of the Duwamish organization.  These art grants are just a side skirmish in the long struggle of the Duwamish organization to obtain Federal recognition as a tribe.  If they can establish a reservation,  they could likely build a casino, presumably within Seattle city limits.  IMO, the fierce opposition of the other indigenous groups to Federal recognition of the Duwamish organization stems mainly from the perceived damage to their casino operations if the Duwamish build a major casino right in town.

    Below is a link to the website of the Muckleshoot organization.  If you read that page,  you’ll see several other groups named who claim partial descent from the historical Duwamish people.

    Lastly,  I don’t have an opinion about who is the “real” representative of the descendants of the historical Duwamish people.

    • Adrienne P March 2, 2024 (7:41 pm)

      The Duwamish Tribe has clearly stated that they have no interest in opening a casino in the city of Seattle. 

  • Millie March 2, 2024 (2:35 pm)

    Is the $133,000 by any chance the dedicated amount included in 1% for Art?   If so, this would have already been earmarked from the total cost of the West Seattle Bridge repair.  If so, the Duwamish Tribe should definitely be included in this allocation.   It would be interesting and educational to see the similiarities and differences in the three tribes’ artwork.

    • WSCurmudgeon March 2, 2024 (9:08 pm)

      I thought the same thing,  Millie. But  Historylink’s story about the program doesn’t connect it to transportation projects.  Also,  $133K is 1% of $13,300K, which is but a fraction of the total cost of the WS Bridge repair / rebuild. I recall as ~ $200,000K. Ms R doubtless can enlighten us on that number.

      Below is link to the background of 1% for art.

      • WSB March 2, 2024 (9:53 pm)

        One point, 1 Percent for Art is not a specific percentage per project – a project may get art costing more, or less, or no art at all.

        One of the agenda documents says:

        This legislation would authorize the SDOT
        Director to execute interlocal agreements with the Suquamish and Muckleshoot Tribes, funded by $133,000 in remaining funds from the Reconnect West Seattle program. Reconnect West Seattle is the nearly complete mitigation program within the larger West Seattle Bridge Safety Project (ie., the WSB repair and mitigation program). These funds have been budgeted since early in the project for such a tribal partnership.

        (When this first surfaced last year, I tried to find any reference to a “tribal partnership” in our coverage of the bridge project, and could not.)

  • Divide3ways March 2, 2024 (4:36 pm)

    I’m irritated by the fact that SDOT began coordinating tribal painting of the columns project while the West Seattle Bridge was still closed. There were internal conversations between different city department,  and presumably several city council members about this project. But NO ONE bothered to tell the West Seattle public, the Duwamish Tribe, nor the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force members about the project.  To me, that omission taints any good will that this project hoped to foster.  Divide the twelve columns between three Tribes. 

  • Don Brubeck March 4, 2024 (1:41 pm)

    This public art project is an insult and affront to the Duwamish Tribe, whose Longhouse and Cultural Center is just a mile south of the site of the proposed artwork. The Muckleshoots have money and political influence, but the Duwamish deserve respect and support from the City of Seattle. The City Council should table this until after the City gives active support for restoration of federal recognition of the Duwamish Tribe, and includes the Duwamish Tribe in any public artwork at this location.

  • budbbs March 5, 2024 (9:56 am)

    I’m listening to the council hearing, and am just learning about this. I’m reading “SDOT said Duwamish would be included in a different/future project, closer to the longhouse.” Are we kidding? The Duwamish Tribe are RIGHT HERE less than a mile from the project. Suquamish and Muckleshoot are many miles away. I say let all three participate, but certainly do not cut out the Duwamish Tribe!!! Rob Saka and the rest of the council, please push to change this.

    • WSB March 5, 2024 (10:23 am)

      We’re at City Hall, where several people, including Duwamish Tribal Council members, spoke to that during the public-comment period at the start of the meeting. Councilmember Saka also announced that there will not be a vote on this today, meaning that it will have to come back to this committee at least one more time before going to the full council. The briefing/discussion is still on the agenda but probably at least an hour away as they’re midway through the first 40-minute item now, with another to go. – TR

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