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Tukwila; from Washington Territory in the Civil War to the little suburb of Seattle, is now a Refugee Haven in the PNW.

Tukwila’s pioneers fought in Civil War      

  The American Civil War began less than a decade after the first white pioneer settlers came to the Duwamish River Valley and formed Washington Territory. It may appear the war did not have any serious influence on the residents of this then remote area as most settlers were recovering from the Indian conflicts.  Several men who served major roles for both the Union and Confederate Armies had been in Washington Territory.  Some of the names that are recognizable are Ulysses Grant, George B. McClellan and George Pickett and all of served  military assignments in the territory prior to the War. In the 1850s, U.S. Congress approved funding to build a military road from Fort Vancouver to Fort Bellingham. The army troops worked with local pioneers to help survey the route that ran along the ridgelines on high  ground and away from flooding rivers.  An example of the type of route taken is being used today and is still known as Military Road which can be driven in one stretch from as far south as Milton and ending in Tukwila.  The original road from Seattle to Fort Steilacoom was completed in 1860, the same year Abraham Lincoln was elected president.

    Ulysses Grant was assigned in 1852 to Fort Vancouver, Oregon Territory, as quartermaster for the 4th Infantry Regiment.  He noted in his journal the Native Americans were “harmless” and they would be peaceful had their homeland not been homesteaded by the white settlers.  He also commented how the Klickitat tribe had been once powerful but was negatively impacted by a Smallpox outbreak.  Grant resigned his commission from the Army in July 1854 and later accepted the request to return to the Army where he became Commander General of the Union Army with the outbreak of the Civil War.  more   


Jefferson Davis – unlikely champion for the Pacific Northwest

by Karen Meador
For most people, the phrase Jefferson Davis and the Pacific Northwest sounds like the ultimate historical paradox. But before he became President of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War, Davis had had a long career of public service to the United States as a West Point graduate and Army officer, Congressman, Senator, Secretary of War and closest adviser to President Franklin Pierce. Matters concerning the Pacific Northwest commanded his close attention.
As an ardent expansionist, Jefferson Davis was a great supporter of creating a continental nation. From the time he entered Congress in 1845, through his final term in the Senate as Chairman of Military Affairs, he sponsored numerous bills and secured appropriations to promote American settlement of the West. In the 1840s, many in government discounted the value of the remote Oregon Country. Yet, in his first congressional speech, Davis addressed the boundary dispute with Great Britain, calling for the U.S. to assert its claims to the region. Expanding the Army presence along the Oregon Trail and throughout the Northwest, as well as sponsoring numerous surveys, topographical expeditions and scientific studies were among his top priorities.Advocating the initiation and expansion of mail service as well as securing pay increases for soldiers serving in the “Pacific possessions” were also among his efforts.
Jefferson Davis’ most enduring legacy to the Northwest may be his patronage of numerous engineering projects, among them the Pacific railroad surveys.  more

Safety for refugees in Tukwila

Tukwila, a suburb of Seattle is a hub of refugee resettlement in that metropolitan area. Safety for refugees is a major issue. An article in The Seattle Times discusses these issues, although only speaks to refugees who feel safe in the city. Perhaps all of those who didn’t feel safe moved out.

…White, black and every shade in between is elbow-to-elbow, eating lunch [at the Tukwila public school]. Somali. Kenyan. Eritrean. Bosnian. Turkish. Korean. Vietnamese. Mexican. Russian. Burmese. Nepali. You need a world map to keep track.
The cultural mash-up is one of the more obvious signs of the global migration that has transformed this once sleepy Seattle suburb into an international city of the future…
…In Tukwila, 62 percent of the population is minority and more than 49 percent speak a language other than English at home, according to the 2010 census.
The New York Times named its school district the single most diverse in the country, with 71 percent minority students.
Tukwila’s diversity is a source of pride here. It’s also a source of challenges for the police, the growing school district and residents facing larger problems: nearly a quarter of the population lives in poverty, compared to 12 percent in Seattle, and Tukwila’s crime rate is the highest in King County…
…The city’s current ethnic makeup is due, in large part, to the efforts of refugee-resettlement agencies, especially the International Rescue Committee, a nonprofit agency that helps people fleeing persecution and war.
The IRC’s Seattle office used to place most of its clients in Seattle. But about 10 years ago, Seattle became too expensive and too dangerous, says the agency’s executive director in Seattle, Bob Johnson. A case worker, who lived in Tukwila and knew an apartment manager there, suggested they look south.
Borka Markovic’-Paponjak was living in a refugee camp when the IRC relocated her and her family from Bosnia to Tukwila in April 2007.
“Tukwila was a scary place then,” she says. “There was prostitution, drug dealing, gang fights. Ten days after we arrived, a guy was killed in front of the coffee shop for 20 bucks.”
But Markovic’-Paponjak and her husband both got jobs. The kids thrived at school, and the other Bosnians in the complex formed a tight bond, watching after each other’s children and holding summertime pool parties.
“Now, I don’t have a speck of fear in me,” says Markovic’-Paponjak, who these days owns a home here and helps other refugees at the IRC. “Tukwila is warmer, nicer, willing to help,” she says. “
Each year, about 500 refugees are placed in Tukwila. Once on their feet, many move on, and their foods disappear from the Trading Post’s shelves…  more


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