So yesterday I went to the Duwamish river festival. At the entrance to the festival, they gave out T Shirts! I gots me a free one.
At the other entrance they gave out Hot Dogs! I gots me one a dem too!!
The Duwamish river is part of this thing called a “Superfund” site. (See here: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/ )
This a program of the government to clean up uncontrolled hazardous waste sites. The park where the festival was held was formerly an Asphalt manufacturing plant. They say you shouldn’t eat fish or shellfish from the Duwamish, or swim in it. But the park had the veneer of greenness and although it wasn’t a huge festival it was pretty lively, with a huge, fully kitted out Mariachi band, and lots of other people playing all kinds of really ethnically diverse stuff.
And I gots a T Shirt for like nuffink!
There was a heap of info regarding the local environment, clean up projects and so on. I spoke to one girl at the local Wilderness stand for a while about the comparisons between American and Australian fauna and invasive weeds and all that stuff.
Seattle and indeed the whole region has a massive issue with introduced Himalayan Blackberry bushes. They are simply everywhere. It’s actually a good time for it, because they’re in fruit. But for the rest of the year, it’s a real nuisance. As it happens, Washington had its own blackberry bush! Why they thought this invasive Himalayan variety was better is anybody’s guess. In our country our blackberry issue was bestowed to us by Von Mueller, the genius darling of the Melbourne Botanical society, who was so enamoured with the weed he took it upon himself to plant the bloody thing everywhere he travelled. There’s a huge mural of him at the front of the Melbourne Botanical Garden. They really love this guy. Idiots.
Anyway, the festival was a lively community event with kids running around, making stuff and lots of info.
Did I mention I got a T Shirt? It was from the Port of Seattle Authority. It was free!
After we went to the Duwamish river festival, we went down to the Duwamish Tribe’s Long House.
As most of the regular readers here will know, I’ve been madly trying track down info on the local indigenous people and history in the region. So I was really looking forward to this excursion.
We got there and the place was packed. They were having a wedding, and had rented the long part of the longhouse out to the wedding party. So we were kind of restricted to the foyer. The house was basically designed on the original Duwamish Aesthetic but it wasn’t a real long house. It was quite modern. I’m not even sure there was anything in the back of the longhouse, just a function room.
But in the foyer there was some good stuff. Lots of information and some great artifacts. There was lots of info on Chief Seattle, who had chartered the original treaty that allowed settlement of the Europeans here. In fact, his Great Great Grand Niece (might have been even Grand Daughter? Fact check me on that!) was there. I didn’t speak to her at all really, but she’s a well respected elder. But we did speak to a lovely woman called Linda.
All in all, the exhibits, much like at the Burke Museum, didn’t really go into all that much depth. There was however some great merchandise there, including a really good book on the local tribes and traditions. (I’m going to buy me a copy before I leave here, or get them to send me one.)
but Linda, however, proved to be a wealth of information on the history and current struggles of the Duwamish people.
She told us about some of the degradation that had happened to the Duwamish, and the 98% of its natural wetlands and vegetation had been destroyed, along with the ecosystem that went with that, including the salmon spawning. We told her we’d just been hearing about all that at the rRiver festival. I told her I’d gotten a T Shirt! For Free!
I pulled it out to show her, with pride.
“Oh” she said. “The Port of Seattle. Hmmm.”
As it turned out the Port of Seattle, despite their efforts at public relations, blinding people and smokescreening them with free T Shirts, were one of the biggest abusers of the Duwamish people ever.
Chief Seattle, of whom the town of Seattle is named, negotiated a treaty with the nascent Port Authority and Seattle founders. It was a good treaty. Long and detailed. There’s a copy of it on the wall. It listed in great detail fishing rights among other territorial rights and resources, for the lease of the land. Pretty much as soon as it was signed, it was dishonoured. (Duttigalla Treaty anyone?) The US Government, and the Port authority, won’t even recognise the Duwamish people as a people to this day, despite the city being named after a prominent member of this tribe.
Not so happy about my free T Shirt now. May have to do some…alterations….
The history of the Duwamish people is long, sad and proud. But they are great survivors and innovators, and adaptors. I won’t go into detail now. This is just my blog. It’s supposed to be about me and how good I am at music and stuff. But I’ll give you some links, if you’re interested, regarding the amazing history of this place.
Also this book is awesome: