My mother and I were born in Seattle on Duwamish land adjacent to Lake Washington. Chief Seattle’s descendants and relatives once fished Sockeye salmon where my grandmother taught swimming.
Along Seattle’s extensive waterfront, there were ninety Duwamish longhouses when they signed the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott, yet it took the tribe until 2001 to get the federal government to acknowledge their existence. Later that year, the new federal administration withdrew this long overdue recognition of federal responsibility and obligations, obliterating the status of the Duwamish and six other tribes.
Today, the Duwamish continue their struggle to provide for their people and hold the federal government accountable for the promises made to Chief Seattle and his fellow indigenous negotiators in exchange for the lands we all enjoyed. My family wishes them well.
The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.access here