The Duwamish River, 2011.

The Duwamish People are the first people of Seattle. In their language, Lushootsheed, they are Dkhw’Duw’Abs, “The People of the Inside.” This name describes Elliot Bay, the Duwamish River, and the other rivers, lakes and bodies of water, which connect the Duwamish people to their homeland.

Today the Duwamish River is much different than what it used to be. The once meandering river was altered and straightened in 1913. The natural channels were modified for a deeper, straighter body of water to enable ships to steer through, allowing industry to claim the Duwamish People’s river. 

In 2001 the Duwamish River was listed as a federal Superfund site. The Duwamish River sediments are highly polluted, containing PCBs, oil and other hydrocarbons; mercury, lead, as well as dioxin, pesticides, arsenic, and even raw sewage. 

These images portray the natural yet urban environment, industry, and restoration areas of the river as well as the communities that surround the Duwamish River. 
 

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