West Seattle, Washington
12:54 PM: Today is Native American Heritage Day, and the Duwamish Tribe Longhouse and Cultural Center in West Seattle (4705 West Marginal Way SW) is the perfect place to honor that. While you can visit year-round, today (and five more days this holiday season) brings an extra reason – the Holiday Native Gift Fair and Art Market. Participating artists and other vendors are lining both main public areas.
Art, apparel, jewelry, drums, carvings, teas, and body-care items are among the merchandise. The fair is on until 5 pm today, 10 am-5 pm again tomorrow and Sunday, and then a second 3-day run December 13-14-15. There’s overflow parking in the former bus lot across West Marginal, and a crossing guard.
ADDED FRIDAY NIGHT: More photos:
The art above is by Terrance Guardipee; the drums below, by Sharon Byerly of Drums and Dreams:
It wasn’t in the mayor’s plan, but – as reported here last week – City Councilmember Lisa Herbold has proposed adding the West Marginal Way SW safety project to next year’s city budget. In hopes of convincing her colleagues to support it, Duwamish Tribe leaders and West Seattle community advocates spoke at the council’s budget hearing last night at City Hall downtown. They’re the first group you’ll see in the Seattle Channel video, about 5 minutes in:
As Longhouse director Jolene Haas explained, the building’s site was chosen in part because of its proximity to the culturally significant sites across the street, but crossing is risky at best. In addition, the west side of the street, where the Longhouse has been for a decade, is without sidewalks. SDOT recently narrowed that side of the road for a short distance as a stopgap measure.
WHAT’S NEXT: The council’s budget review continues. If you have an opinion on this or anything else they’re considering, firstname.lastname@example.org is the email address reaching them all.
Thanks to Andy for the tip. As our video shows, SDOT has blocked off part of the outside southbound lane of West Marginal Way SW by the Duwamish Tribe Longhouse and Cultural Center, in an attempt to address some of the tribe’s ongoing safety concerns. We’ve been reporting all year on the tribe’s efforts to get help with improving safe access to the longhouse and between it and the Duwamish River shore, including cultural/natural sites, across the busy street. The possibility of lane removal was mentioned to the West Seattle Transportation Coalition two weeks ago by SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe; he mentioned a signal was a possibility too, but that isn’t in the current plan, SDOT spokesperson Ethan Bergerson tells WSB:
While SDOT did not have the funding for a larger signal project to connect the longhouse to the river and park, we were able to use existing funding to implement this low-cost revision to address safety concerns and provide some parking on the western side of the street in front of the Duwamish Tribe Longhouse.
We don’t have plans for further changes. Of course, like every project, we will observe traffic performance and could potentially make some minor revisions if we see any issues that need to be addressed.
Though the city has previously rejected the tribe’s grant application for pedestrian-safety work, it has granted $575,000 that will cover part of the cost of expanding longhouse parking, as we reported last month.
The Duwamish Tribe is a step closer to buying a site adjacent to its West Seattle Longhouse for parking expansion, thanks to a city grant. An announcement Friday of grants from the Equitable Development Initiative included $575,000 for the tribe “to purchase property adjacent to the existing Longhouse to support the continued viability of the cultural space (to) help visitors safely access the Longhouse.” As we reported earlier this year, including in this January report on the Longhouse’s 10-year anniversary, the tribe has been trying to get city help for a safe crossing on West Marginal Way. They’re still working toward that, Longhouse director Jolene Haas told WSB when we asked her about the new grant after last night’s candidate debate. She also says that while this city grant will enable them to buy the property to the south that currently holds an old house, it’s only part of the $800,000+ they applied for, so they will need to fundraise to cover the rest of the cost of converting the site.
Thanks to Judy Bentley for sending the photos and report on another of Saturday’s remarkable West Seattle events:
More than 90 people of all ages walked native land yesterday from ridge to river on National Trails Day in the West Duwamish Greenbelt.
Ken Workman, a descendant of Chief Seattle, described his personal experience growing up on Puget Ridge and the Duwamish experience of the land on the ridge and along the Duwamish River.
The hike left South Seattle College and followed an unimproved trail down to the Duwamish Longhouse on West Marginal Way and back up. In the last few blocks, hikers had to walk the parking strip along the busy truck-way because sidewalks are intermittent.
The hike, sponsored by the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trails group, highlighted the vision of a ridge to river trail, connecting landscapes nurturing human life for thousands of years.
For more information about the Duwamish Greenbelt Trails group, consult our website at www.wdgtrails.com
Midway through this three-day weekend, here’s something coming up next weekend that you might want to plan ahead to be part of: The monthly West Duwamish Greenbelt Trails guided hike on June 1st offers the chance to “Walk Native Land” with someone who knows all about it. The announcement:
Celebrate National Trails Day in our West Duwamish Greenbelt!
“Walk Native Land” with Ken Workman, a descendant of Chief Seattle and a member of the Duwamish Tribe. Ken will talk about his personal experience growing up in the greenbelt and his tribe’s use of the land and nearby Duwamish River.
The hike begins at 10 a.m. near the Seattle Chinese Garden at South Seattle College. We’ll walk down Puget Ridge to the Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center and return. This hike is on unimproved trail with aspirations to be a connector between ridge and river, about two miles round-trip with 200 feet of elevation gain coming back. Wear good shoes or boots and be prepared for small obstacles like logs, brush, and walking near the edge of West Marginal Way.
South Seattle College is at 6000 16th Ave. SW (bus route 125). Enter at the north entrance and we will meet near the first building on your left. Parking is on 16th Ave. SW or at the arboretum and garden center at the college.
This walk is sponsored by West Duwamish Greenbelt Trails. Please join us for greenbelt walks scheduled on the first Saturday of each month until October!
APOLOGY TOMORROW: This first-of-its-kind event is set for 1-5 pm Saturday (March 30th), co-presented by the Grandmothers Global Healing Movement, starting with a 1 pm ceremony and continuing through a 3 pm meal: “The Apology will be focused on the Duwamish people, and all Native American tribes. Featured speakers include H.E. Dagmola Kusho Sakya of the Tibetan Buddhist lineage; Rev. Kelly Brown, lead pastor of Plymouth Church Seattle; Pastor Pat Wright of Total Experience Gospel Choir fame; and others. Everyone is encouraged to bring food and gifting to the Indigenous, whether dollars, services, or goods.
Read more in our calendar listing.
DRCC NEXT FRIDAY: One week from tonight, the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition invites you to the Longhouse for the fourth annual Beer and Chocolate Fest. It’s not only a fundraiser for the nonprofit, it’s also a chance to thank longtime coordinator James Rasmussen and welcome new executive director Paulina Lopez – well known for her years of community work in the area, but new in this role. Tickets are available here for the 5:30 pm April 5th event.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Though the Duwamish Tribe Longhouse in West Seattle is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month, its origins go back decades.
Joleen Haas, the Longhouse’s director, observes that it “really started 30 or 40 years ago … the purpose was to have a home for the Duwamish but also a place to share our history with, and educate, everyone. We surveyed the membership and asked, what more do you want besides (federal) recognition? They said, they wanted a longhouse.” It would be the first since in more than a century, since settlers burned almost 100 Duwamish longhouses in the 1800s and early 1900s.
The search for a site was not easy. The search ranged far and wide, “until the Friends of the Duwamish found this property,” recalled Haas, daughter of Duwamish chair Cecile Hansen, during a recent interview with us at the Longhouse. Finally a site was found in West Seattle, a former dumpsite as Haas recounts. “As soon as we got the land we started planning.” More of the history is recounted on the tribe’s website:
The Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center is located on the west side of West Marginal Way in West Seattle overlooking the Duwamish River valley near a village site where the young Chief Seattle grew up. Our Center is across the street from a major archeological site, Duwamish Site No. 1 (45-KI-23), a designated site in the National Register of Historic Places. Archeologists have uncovered a major village dated back to 600 A.D. It was occupied during the fall, winter and early spring and was known for a gathering place for shellfish from the tide flats of the original Duwamish River. Shell middens along the riverbanks are still visible: This is the only remaining stretch of the original Duwamish River.
Tribal Elders in 1927 called the village Ha-AH-poos, had its own shaman (healer), several longhouses, and hundreds of inhabitants that lived there in the 1800’s. Directly north of Ha AH-poos is another major former village, Tul a’lt, or Herrings House, now Herrings House Park. This large village consisted of four medium-sized longhouses (100 ft x 50 ft) and a larger potlatch house more than 300 feet long.
The 6,000-square-foot Duwamish Longhouse’s groundbreaking ceremony was held in June 2007:
(WSB photo, June 2007)
On Saturday, while tens of thousands of people were marching downtown out of concern over the newly inaugurated administration, the White House transition was also a topic of discussion at the Duwamish Longhouse. The day was in part a celebration of the longhouse itself – completed and dedicated eight years ago – but it began with a focus on the Duwamish Tribe‘s continued quest for its treaty rights. Our video above is from a Q/A session that followed the Longhouse’s first screening of the new documentary “Promised Land,” which is about the Duwamish and Chinook Tribes’ struggle to get the federal government to honor those rights.
In our video, after lauding the filmmakers for their work, Duwamish chair Cecile Hansen answered questions (others were fielded by James Rasmussen and Ken Workman, also of the tribe). Hansen said she is “not too encouraged about the new administration, but you never know what could happen.” Rasmussen said they also are dealing with a change in who represents Seattle in the U.S. House of Representatives. U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, who just retired, was a longtime champion of the Duwamish pursuit of federal recognition; his newly elected successor, U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, hasn’t been to the Longhouse, Rasmussen noted, and they don’t know whether she is supportive or not. He also explained, when asked for details of what would be different if they had treaty rights, that Duwamish youth are not recognized as Native Americans when enrolling in college – they have been offered the chance to do so if they enroll with a recognized tribe, but, Rasmussen said, usually decline.
Other tribes in the area have opposed Duwamish treaty rights, Rasmussen went on to say, because of concerns over casino competition. The Duwamish have “no plan to build a casino – never has been a plan,” he said, but he also said that when once offered the chance at recognition if they permanently renounced that option, they put the question to their membership and they said no, “we’re not giving up anything.”
Hansen, by the way, says she’s writing a book. She’s been fighting for the treaty rights for more than 40 years; the tribe briefly gained recognition in the final days of the Clinton Administration, saw it subsequently canceled by the Bush Administration, and then came another denial, from the Obama Administration, in summer 2015.
(August 2015 WSB photo)
As you will also hear her say in the video – and as we reported here a year and a half ago – she took the Duwamish’s case directly to now-former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, a West Seattle resident (photo above). While Jewell touted the department’s work with tribes in her farewell, that didn’t include any progress for the Duwamish, Hansen noted. “If she had brought the tribes together, we would not be suffering with this non-status. … She should have done more for the Duwamish people.”
On this Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the Duwamish Tribe remains without federal recognition.
The tribe hasn’t given up the fight, and recently circulated a March 2016 document that is interpreted as giving them the right to appeal last year’s decision rejecting their longstanding bid for recognition (a challenge that Duwamish chair Cecile Hansen took directly to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in West Seattle a few months later).
The Duwamish also are getting new attention via a documentary chronicling both their campaign for recognition and that of another Washington state tribe, the Chinook. It’s called “Promised Land,” and its second Seattle-area screening is coming up one week from tonight. The trailer is above; the screening is at 8 pm Monday, October 17th, as part of the Social Justice Film Festival, at the University of Washington – details here, including how to get tickets.
Closer to home, you can learn more about our area’s First People by visiting the Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center (4705 W. Marginal Way SW) Mondays-Saturdays, 10 am-5 pm, free admission, donations accepted.
Story, photos, and video by Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Listening to Alaska Natives is the first thing on President Obama‘s schedule when he arrives in Alaska later today.
Listening to a Puget Sound Native leader is something his Interior Secretary probably didn’t expect to find herself doing in her West Seattle driveway while preparing to head north herself.
As first reported here on Saturday, Duwamish Tribe chair Cecile Hansen went to Secretary Sally Jewell‘s North Admiral neighborhood with local activists hoping to deliver a letter seeking a meeting about Jewell’s department denying the tribe federal recognition two months ago. “Ruined my Fourth of July,” Hansen said about that July 2nd decision by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
After gathering a few houses away on Saturday morning, Hansen and the group trouped up the front steps of where they thought Jewell lived (when not in DC).
A man answering the door told them that wasn’t the house they were looking for but wouldn’t say which house that would be. So they then semi-rallied on the sidewalk, reading statements, until one group member spotted Jewell – loading items into a car trunk in a driveway across the street. Over went everyone – including Hansen, surprised. Here’s what happened in the ensuing four and a half minutes:
Though the short encounter was more cheery than confrontational, as you heard, Jewell made no commitment – referring repeatedly to the “complexity” of the recognition issue and mentioning other tribes’ “difference of opinion.” Hansen, asked afterward what she thought, pronounced what she heard to have been “political runaround.” Days after the July denial of recognition, she told media at the tribe’s West Seattle longhouse that she felt especially let down by Jewell.
At the time, there also were suggestions of a grass-roots citizen lobbying effort. That might hold promise, if what happened on Jewell’s street a few minutes later is any indication. A neighbor emerged from a garage a few houses east – one still decorated for what apparently had been a luau the night before – to ask what was going on. Within a blink, Hansen and the activists were gathered outside the garage, making their case to the neighbor and several others sitting inside.
Petitions were circulated. Right after that, we took our leave – the windstorm was kicking up (as you can hear in our video) and people were starting to text about tree trouble. Hansen had said her council would be meeting this week, and that a conversation was due to happen with the lawyer representing them in an ongoing court attempt to force the recognition issue. Seattle’s U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott has tried to push recognition via legislation, but it has idled.
Hansen also hopes to hear from Jewell, who told her she would be back in D.C. after Labor Day, and said she at least would convey the message to Kevin Washburn, her assistant secretary for Indian Affairs, during the Alaska trip, which she noted would be followed by a visit to Eastern Washington tribes. Meantime, since the Saturday encounter, Jewell has made headlines with a gesture to Alaska Natives, announcing that Mount McKinley would be renamed Denali, the name by which it is known to them. The matter of recognizing a tribe – in, as she noted on Saturday, the face of opposition by others – is not as simple.
Chair Hansen reiterated that the Duwamish are determined. Even before the short chat with Jewell, she mused that maybe if the feds remain reluctant, she could take her case to Pope Francis, who is headed to the U.S. in three weeks.
AHEAD: THE LETTER – Read on to see the letter that the activists brought to Jewell’s neighborhood on behalf of Hansen and the Duwamish people: