Not far from Seattle skyscrapers live 150-year-old clams, more than 250 species of fish, and underwater kelp forests as complex as any terrestrial ecosystem. For millennia, vibrant Coast Salish communities have lived beside these waters dense with nutrient-rich foods, with cultures intertwined through exchanges across the waterways. Transformed by settlement and resource extraction, Puget Sound and its future health now depend on a better understanding of the region's ecological complexities.
Focusing on the area south of Port Townsend and between the Cascade and Olympic mountains, Williams uncovers human and natural histories in, on, and around the Sound. In conversations with archaeologists, biologists, and tribal authorities, Williams traces how generations of humans have interacted with such species as geoducks, salmon, orcas, rockfish, and herring. He sheds light on how warfare shaped development and how people have moved across this maritime highway, in canoes, the mosquito fleet, and today's ferry system. The book also takes an unflinching look at how the Sound's ecosystems have suffered from human behavior, including pollution, habitat destruction, and the effects of climate change.
Witty, graceful, and deeply informed, Homewaters weaves history and science into a fascinating and hopeful narrative, one that will introduce newcomers to the astonishing life that inhabits the Sound and offers longtime residents new insight into and appreciation of the waters they call home.
David B. Williams is a naturalist, author, and educator. His many books include the award-winning Too High and Too Steep: Reshaping Seattle’s Topography and Seattle Walks: Discovering History and Nature in the City.
"Homewaters is a sweeping exploration of how a place shapes lives. It begins with glaciers and volcanoes carving up Puget Sound, and examines early Native communities' relationships with their environment, colonial exploitation of natural resources and efforts to better understand how keystone and emblematic species like salmon, orca, rockfish, herring, kelp and more are enduring the conditions of the Sound today."
"[A] highly readable and enjoyable account that connects seemingly disparate threads and weaves together a complex mix of science and humanities that's greater than the sum of its parts – much like Puget Sound history itself."
"[O]pens readers' eyes to the complexity of life in the Sound and the complexity of human history on and beside it."
– Post Alley
"[A] fascinating exploration of how a place shapes the lives of the people and cultures that live along its shore from earliest times to the present day [...] Wonderful history and excellent read."
– The Confluence
"David Williams has produced another engaging book covering the Pacific Northwest and how its past has shaped its present [...] Homewaters is an inspiring book, and weneed more like it."
"In this storied blend of cultural and natural history, we find not only a new understanding of the past but a pathway to the relationships and reciprocity that are essential for every dimension of Puget Sound's future."
– Lyanda Lynn Haupt, author of Mozart's Starling
"Williams's thorough research is presented in a beautiful narrative that is not only entertaining but informative and will transform our understanding of the region."
– Joseph K. Gaydos, coauthor of The Salish Sea: Jewel of the Pacific Northwest
"Williams does an excellent job of bringing together the complex histories of a complicated place and frames the recent human history of Puget Sound with the natural history of species such as rockfish and sea anemones. Homewaters will sit very comfortably alongside many other classics of regional history."
– Coll Thrush, author of Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place