The Old West may feel like ancient history to most of us, but one of the bloodiest and most colorful of western outlaws ended his days right here in our Pacific Northwest just 119 years ago when Seattle was already a bustling, modern metropolis.
The legal protections Seattle affords its trees are minimal compared to other American cities. For instance, New York and Boston aggressively protect their urban forests. New York has 7 million trees, and it’s not clear to me that Seattle even knows how many it has.
Geological evidence indicates that the Seattle Fault has slipped catastrophically 3,200 years ago, 1,700 years ago and 1,100 years ago. This suggests a frequency of about once every 750 years so the 1,100 years separating us from the last big one would indicate we are overdue.
Intelligent, dedicated residents in Washington's coastal communities provided the leadership to overcome political inertia and partisan stupidity. The groundwork for safety has been laid, so when the next big wave comes, physical damage will be great, but the horrors recalled in myth and legend need not be repeated.
Originally, the two straits and Puget Sound were known as the Gulf of Georgia, a name given by Captain George Vancouver in 1792 to honor his sovereign and patron, George III. It was a patronizing term then, much as the Salish Sea is now.
In Puget Sound society, if a new and vigorous group showed up, one might have to fight them, but one could also intermarry with them, sharing in their vitality and mitigating violence. Seattle changed his course and set to work immediately to bring this peaceful vision about in his homeland around Elliott Bay.
Historically the Battle of Seattle has been treated as an oddity: an engagement the Indians were bound to lose. In fact, it was a major setback for the settlers. And historians have largely ignored the crucial role played by the Duwamish and Chief Seattle.