Become a Real Renter Today!

Silhouette of Seattle skyline and words: "This land has a story. What role will you play?"

With Thanksgiving around the corner, the question of how to be in solidarity with the First Peoples of this land may be on your mind. In the Puget Sound region, the Duwamish people have created a program called Real Rent Duwamish as a way for people who live or work to pay rent to the Duwamish tribe, people who have been here since time immemorial. From their website: “Though the city named for the Duwamish leader Chief Seattle thrives, the Tribe has yet to be justly compensated for their land, resources, and livelihood…All funds go directly to Duwamish Tribal Services (DTS) to support the revival of Duwamish culture and the vitality of the Duwamish Tribe.” Funding received through Real Rent is particularly important because, despite decades of resistance and activism, the Federal Government has refused to recognize the Duwamish tribe and to honor the 1855 treaty, thereby denying the tribe their rights to natural resources and federal support for health, education, social, and cultural services.

A number of UUC members have become Real Renters and the Social Justice Steering Committee is encouraging more people to sign up for this November. Real Rent Duwamish is only 74 people away from having 10,000 renters in Seattle. Let’s help them get to 10,000!

To learn more, visit the Longhouse and Cultural Store in West Seattle and

Join the UU Ministry for the Earth, UUA, and UUSC in a week of programming about the legacy of settler colonialism and Indigenous Justice Movements, Harvest the Power: November 19 – 26

From Richard Brooks, Social Justice Steering Committee Chair and Real Renter:

My particular interest in the history and current circumstances of the Duwamish Tribe grew out of my family settlement history in Southeastern Washington State. My ancestors settled on farmland in the Palouse country as a result of the Homestead Act of 1862 and the Allotment Act of 1893. These acts were examples of the assumption of Native land for white settlement by governmental policy. As a Seattle resident, I have become gradually more aware of the historic plight of the Puget Sound tribes, specifically the Duwamish, whose land we occupy. They too were removed from this land by governmental action in 1855, and have worked since that date to reestablish their rightful presence along the Duwamish River. Their successful efforts include the establishment of coalitions to build a longhouse, participate significantly in the cleanup of the industrially impacted river, and create parks and access points to the Duwamish River. I have been very moved by my visit to the longhouse, and to these parks. Great work is being done. I have joined the Real Rent Duwamish Fund to support this vital work of our neighbors. I hope to have others at UUC join me. Thank you.

From Sharon Victor, Climate Action Team Chair and Social Justice Steering Committee Member, who grew up on the Duwamish River:

The Lower Duwamish River, where I grew up, was polluted by industries like Boeing, junk yards, metal recycling, and sewer overflow. As early as 1950, not only did we not dare eat the fish, neither did the Duwamish people who had supposedly kept that right under the Treaty signed in 1855.

Our 4th grade teacher taught us about the Denny Party landing at Alki Point in 1851. My teacher didn’t mention that they would have died without the help of the Duwamish people that dark cold winter. We never learned that the white people ruined the Duwamish peoples’ river and subsistence by taking out the big lazy loops that provided fish and animal habitat. My dad had worked at a shipyard on the river during WWII, while my mom managed us kids in a houseboat moored 20 miles across the Sound. When the War was over and I showed up, the house on River Street was all they could afford. Our neighborhood of 14 houses had one native American family [Tulalip], a wood delivery business run by a native man, and a cement block yard run by a Filippino family. Even so, it never occurred to us to think about the rights of the people who owned it first. Now seems to be the right time.

2 Responses

  1. Alice Arrington says:

    I am very interested in contributing to the Real Rent Duwamish fund. Need contact information.
    Alice Arrington

  2. UUC Staff says:

    Hi Alice – You can just click on the blue link above. Or here: