"The River That Made Seattle" Virtual Book Launch

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Join author BJ Cummings and special guests as she launches her newest book "The River That Made Seattle."

About this Event

Join author BJ Cummings as she launches her new book The River That Made Seattle: A Human and Natural History. Following her reading, BJ will be joined by Ken Workman, the Great-Great-Great Grandson of Chief Seattle and Louise Jones-Brown, a 6th generation descendant of pioneer settler Jacob Maple, for a conversation moderated by historian and author Jennifer Ott.

This event is a collaboration between the University of Washington Press and University Book Store. Free registration via the "Register" button is required for this Zoom event. The Zoom meeting ID will be sent to the email address associated with the registration two hours before the event.

About the Book

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Using previously unpublished accounts by Indigenous people and settlers, BJ Cummings’s compelling narrative restores the Duwamish River to its central place in Seattle and Pacific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.

To purchase a copy of The River That Made Seattle, visit the University Book Store's website, where they are taking online orders and offering free, domestic, ground shipping for any purchase of $15 or more as well as curbside pickup.

About the Author

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.

About the Guests

Ken Workman, a retired Systems and Data Analyst from Boeing’s Flight Operations Engineering Department, is a former Duwamish Tribal Council member as well as a former Duwamish Tribal Services 501(c)(3) President. Ken is a member of the Duwamish Tribe, the first people of Seattle. Today Ken enjoys retired life living on a river in the mountains east of Seattle.

Louise Jones-Brown is a 6th generation descendant of pioneer settler, Jacob Maple, who arrived on the banks of the Duwamish River on June 22, 1851 along with his son, Samuel and Luther Collins. The party was invited by Chief Seattle to scout out locations for their Oregon Donation Land Claims. She is a member of the Pioneer Association of Seattle, Daughters of the Pioneers, Chapter #1 and the Tukwila Historical Society.

Jennifer Ott is an environmental historian, assistant director of HistoryLink, and editor of Seattle at 150: Stories of the City through 150 Objects from the Seattle Municipal Archives; author of Olmsted in Seattle: Creating a Park System for a Modern City; and coauthor with David B. Williams of Waterway: The Story of Seattle’s Locks and Ship Canal. She is a contributor of Washington state history to, Seattle magazine, and Oregon Historical Quarterly.

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