Committee on Geographic Names Hears First Tribal Proposals for Derogatory Place Names
July 26, 2022
Committee also approves name for peak in Whatcom County, lake in Okanogan County during its meeting Tuesday
The Washington State Committee on Geographic Names heard the first proposals from tribes within the state to rename features bearing a derogatory term that refers to Indigenous women and approved two other proposals during its meeting Tuesday morning.
The 17 proposals from tribes come in the wake of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s orders last year to rename geographic features throughout the country that have derogatory names.
Three features received proposals from multiple tribes. Committee staff will correspond with the chairs of both tribal councils and their cultural heritage staff to encourage the development of a consensus on renaming these features.
The 11 proposals listed below were all accepted for final consideration.
PROPOSALS FROM THE CONFEDERATED TRIBES AND BANDS OF THE YAKAMA NATION
The pair of Columbia River islands in Klickitat County would be named Sq’wanana, meaning “two sitting on lap.” The name would reflect the names of the islands in the Wishxam language.
The Skamania County lake southeast of Blue Lake would be named Aalvic Wahtum, after Lucille Aalvic. Aalvic was a citizen of the Yakama Nation who lived in Stevenson after being removed from her original family site by the Army Corps of Engineers during the construction of the Bonneville Dam. Aalvic was the first officially enrolled citizen of the Yakama Nation.
The Skamania County butte would be named Pataniks Pushtye, referencing the name of Lulukash, the child of the woman for whom the nearby twin buttes are named.
The Skamania County creek along East Canyon Ridge would be named Timla Wapykt from the traditional name of the adjacent butte, Timla-Timla Pushtye, meaning “little heart mountain of that shape.”
The Skamania County stream that flows into the Little White Salmon River would be named Shluxiksikswana, meaning “the eating place,” after the name of the Klickitat village site within the drainage.
PROPOSALS FROM THE CONFEDERATED TRIBES OF THE COLVILLE RESERVATION
The peak in Columbia County would be named Wenaha Peak after the Wenaha River, which runs below. Wenaha is a Cayuse place name, and the peak is in the traditional territory of the Chief Joseph Band of Nez Perce.
The spring in Garfield County would be named Tucannon Spring, after the nearby Tucannon River. The name is a distortion of the word “tukanin,” which means “bread root” and is an important food source.
The peak in Okanogan County would be renamed Condon Mountain, after a well-established family in the Kartar Valley on the Colville Reservation. The name comes from the associated Condon Spring.
The creek in Okanogan County would be renamed West Fork Frosty Creek, as the creek is a tributary of Frosty Creek.
The creek in Stevens County would be renamed Snqilt Creek, after the name for the area above Little Dalles to Northport where the creek is located.
PROPOSAL FROM THE QUINAULT INDIAN NATION
The derogatorily named creek in Jefferson County would be renamed Noskeliikuu, meaning “the place where the whale dropped.” The name has been used in Quinault tribal histories for at least four generations.
In addition to the naming proposals for initial approval that came in the wake of the Secretary of the Interior’s executive order, the Committee approved one further proposal for initial consideration. Reads Bay in San Juan County would be renamed to Reeds Bay. The change corrects the spelling of the name to that of Tacee and John P. Reed, the first settlers on Decatur Island in the late 1860s.
After the Committee approves a proposal for final consideration, it solicits comments on that proposal from local and tribal governments, and members of the public who may have an interest in a new name or a name change. The Committee considers these comments when deciding whether to recommend that the Board of Natural Resources approve a name proposal.
In addition to the approval for initial consideration of the tribal proposals, the Committee approved the names of a lake in Okanogan County and a peak in Whatcom County during the meeting.
A lake northwest of Winthrop would be named Rizeor Lake for Henry Rizeor, a homesteader who owned the property around the lake. The lake is informally known in the area as Riser Lake, and this would formalize the proper spelling of Rizeor’s surname.
A mountain without an official name would be named Kloke Peak in honor of Dallas Kloke, an Anacortes mountaineer who completed the first documented ascent of the peak in 1972. Kloke died in 2010 during a climbing accident in the North Cascades.
Once the Committee approves proposals that are up for final consideration, it forwards its recommendations to the Board of Natural Resources, acting as the Washington State Board on Geographic Names. If the board approves these recommendations, the approved names are added to the Washington Administrative Code and the Board passes them along to the United States Board on Geographic Names for federal review.
The Committee met remotely as part of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Detailed information on all initial and final proposals, including maps, historical information, and supporting documentation, can be found on the Board of Natural Resources page under the About tab on the DNR website. Information on the policies and procedures of the Committee can be found in the same location.
About the Washington State Committee on Geographic Names
The Committee, which meets at least twice annually, assists the Board of Natural Resources in approving official names for Washington state geographic features. It is made up of a representative of the Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, a representative of the State Librarian, the director of the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, a representative of Washington state tribes, and three members of the public.