Seattle is synonymous with water, it is at the head of a major watershed and rich riparian environment. Historically this region was the home to 13 Native tribes, four of which resided in Elliott Bay and the Lower Duwamish River. These tribes names, when translated describe a place depending on it's location in relation to the waterway it is next to or what kind of water related game can be found there. The watershed and riparian communities this region holds had supported generations of these tribes and now supports us, the modern inhabitants of this land. Due to re-channeling the Duwamish River, industrial growth and subsequent waste as well as over-fishing, the ability of the land to provide as it once had is greatly reduced. The Seattle identity, consisting of Native American heritage, maritime activities, both fishing and import/export, and a strong connection to the Pacific Northwest geography is suffering due to international ownership of shipping companies, loss of habitat due to development and pollution and health issues rising from polluted waters.
How is the modern Seattle identity justified by the manufactured site that this region's waterways have become? Community involvement, green building, reconnecting to the past thru reclamation projects, art projects and restoration are all ways that Seattle is reclaiming a proud identity. The creation of an urban landscape includes built history and what is formed out of it as well as how well a community can recover from damaging decisions made in that past. Looking at projects such as the two Earthworks Parks and the restoration of historic buildings and land, I see a definite process that is the cultural time line for this city. Elliott Bay, the Duwamish River, the Puget Sound, these are the major identifying factors I use to focus the growth of the urban landscape that is Seattle. From tribal land to overburdened/ over polluted ecosystem to informed and restored water management practices I see all around me the integration of industry and environment by looking to the past and planning for the future of this urban space we call home.