Upcoming Talks Focus on Chief Seattle, Salmon

Humanities Washington is offering educational presentations this Saturday and Tuesday.

At 2 p.m. Saturday, biographer David M. Buerge will present “Who Was Chief Seattle?” at the McCleary Timberland Library.

Chief Seattle wrote nothing down during his life, yet his words — both real and attributed — are known throughout the world. The result is a man made up of both historical and fictional aspects, from which conflicting messages can be gleaned.

Buerge, a historian to the Duwamish Tribe (Seattle’s mother’s people), spent more than 20 years exploring the man from a variety of sources to reveal a leader of epic character. He was a warrior, an orator, a benefactor and a visionary who helped found the city that bears his name.

Chief Seattle’s vision was ambitious: a prosperous, multiracial city. But toward the end of his life, he saw that vision become a tragedy. In the current century, is the city of Seattle edging any closer to its namesake’s vision? Buerge explores this complex figure to uncover how one man’s story still shapes the identity of the city.

Buerge, who lives in Everett, has been researching the pre- and early history of the city of Seattle since the mid-1970s. He has published 14 books of history and biography. Buerge’s latest book, “Chief Seattle and the Town that Took His Name,” is the first biography of Chief Seattle intended for adults.

Then, on Tuesday at 6 p.m., Washington State Climatologist Nick Bond will present “Are Salmon Doomed? Hatching a Plan to Save a Northwest Icon” at the Montesano Timberland Library.

Salmon play a fundamental role in the Pacific Northwest as an environmental necessity, a vital economic resource and a cultural symbol. But they are in trouble.

With warming oceans, environmental degradation and lowering genetic variability, wild salmon populations are dwindling. Bond explores the past, present and possible future conditions for salmon in our state, and sees room for optimism. He shares lessons on how local communities have accomplished important work to support salmon runs, but also takes a hard look at the realities climate change poses for this regional treasure.

Bond’s position was created by the State of Washington to serve as a credible and expert source of climate and weather information. The Seattle resident earned a Ph.D. in atmospheric sciences from the University of Washington, and is now a principal research scientist with the Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Ocean with the College of the Environment. He also is on the science panel for the Puget Sound Partnership, which focuses on the actions needed to recover and sustain the Puget Sound ecosystem.

For more information on either lecture, or other upcoming events, visit www.humanities.org.