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Resource Guide - The River that Made Seattle

Updated: Oct 12, 2021

Thank you for your interest in this Saturday Speaker Series presentation! We hope you enjoyed this informative discussion with BJ Cummings and will consider joining us for future events.

BJ Cummings is founder of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition and previously served as executive director of Sustainable Seattle. Cummings is currently manager of community engagement for the Superfund Research Program at the University of Washington.

Her book is available through many local and independent book stores, as well as the Duwamish Longhouse Store:

Description: With bountiful salmon and fertile plains, the Duwamish River has drawn people to its shores over the centuries for trading, transport, and sustenance. Chief Se’alth and his allies fished and lived in villages here and white settlers established their first settlements nearby. Industrialists later straightened the river’s natural turns and built factories on its banks, floating in raw materials and shipping out airplane parts, cement, and steel. 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Using previously unpublished accounts by Indigenous people and settlers, BJ Cummings’s compelling narrative restores the Duwamish River to its central place in Seattle and Pacific Northwest history. Writing from the perspective of environmental justice—and herself a key figure in river restoration efforts—Cummings vividly portrays the people and conflicts that shaped the region’s culture and natural environment. She conducted research with members of the Duwamish Tribe, with whom she has long worked as an advocate. Cummings shares the river’s story as a call for action in aligning decisions about the river and its future with values of collaboration, respect, and justice.



Puget Soundkeeper Alliance:

Duwamish River Community Coalition:


Further Reading

On the 20th anniversary of its Superfund listing, the Duwamish River faces a triple threat by By Paulina López, James Rasmussen and BJ Cummings:


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