At the Salmon Homecoming, More Thoughts on the Waterfront

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I'm a fan of Park(ing) Day, but rather than roaming around looking for participants I went to the waterfront to check out the Salmon Homecoming. The first thing I noticed was the Waterfront Fountain, turned off to prevent overspray. It was very reminiscent of the ruined columns of the Embarcadero elevated freeway after Loma Prieta, and the remnant they had left along the waterfront for a time. There's a lot of interest in preserving some portion of our viaduct, as memorial ruin or observation deck. Maintenance is a big issue there. If it's fallling down, you have to put in some work to keep it standing.

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There were plenty of people out on a gray, foggy and then drippy day. Lots of them were Nebraska fans in red, unwittingly resembling flows of spawning salmon. The outdoor part of the festival wasn't much to speak of - Restore Our Waters had a booth of T-shirts for $15, and the Lummi tribe had barbecued salmon dinners, frybread, and a lemonade stand. The salmon serving was huge and delicious.

I sat next to a familiar face, Gary, 72, of the Makah tribe, who you can often find sitting outside the Blue Moon Tavern. He'll be quick to tell you that he doesn't drink, he just likes mixing with the people that come by. That's how I first encountered him, on a group photowalk (with the Alives in the Superunknown - I miss our walks). Some of the Lummi folk sat down to eat and asked where his tribe is. He says Neah Bay. There was some talk of tribal funds and he said he hoped his money would arrive soon.

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I had refused the sodas that came with the meal, so he handed me a small bottled water from his bag. I ate, said goodbye and went on my way, off to Market to shop. No fat pigs purchased (unless you count sausages), but I always say hello to Rachel.

My usual route leaving the Market is to walk north on Western, where I always look for the Williams family out carving. I first met Rick Williams when my mother was in town. She purchased a small owl totem - a 1937 pattern, handed down in the family - from Rick's 16-year old son Thunderheart Dave. "You're good" she told him, "but not as good as your father", who had a larger totem he had been working on for months. When I first heard of the shooting of Rick's brother, John T. Williams, I was horrified, thinking it was the man we had met, and still horrified when I got the identities straight. They're on the benches carving in good weather, and the younger generation on weekends, now that school is in.

It's a great relief to see them there, each time. You don't know how much you'll miss something until you think its gone. There was a lot of talk, at the waterfront presentations, about First Peoples and incorporating native heritage and input. They are still here, and active, friends and neighbors, part of day-to-day life in Seattle, if you look.

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