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For centuries, the Duwamish River has drawn people to its shores for trading, transport, and sustenance. Unfortunately, the very utility of the river has been its undoing, as decades of dumping led to the river being declared a Superfund cleanup site. Using previously unpublished accounts by Indigenous people and settlers, author BJ Cummings shares the river’s story in pursuit of restoring the Duwamish River to its central place in Seattle and Pacific Northwest history.
In this livestreamed conversation with Duwamish Tribal member James Rasmussen and Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition Executive Director Paulina Lopez, Cummings talks about her own story and what drew her to the river’s history. She draws from her book The River That Made Seattle: A Human and Natural History of the Duwamish to show both historical and contemporary photos of the river, and create a compelling narrative portraying the people and conflicts that shaped the culture and natural environment. Cummings, Rasmussen, and Lopez answer questions about the history of the Duwamish, and invite us to action on aligning decisions about the river and its future with values of collaboration, respect, and justice.
BJ Cummings is a founder of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition and previously served as Executive Director of Sustainable Seattle. She is currently Manager of Community Engagement for the Superfund Research Program at the University of Washington.
James Rasmussen is a member of the Duwamish Tribe. He is the founding Director of the Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center, and is the Superfund Manager for the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition.
Paulina Lopez is a first-generation immigrant from Ecuador and a human rights law advocate. She is the Executive Director of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition.
Presented by Town Hall Seattle.