State Formally Adopts 9 Tribal Proposals to Replace Derogatory Place Names
January 17, 2023
Proposals are first to reach Board of Natural Resources after federal order; Board also approves San Juan County spelling correction
Nine tribal proposals to rename features across Washington state that once bore a derogatory term for Native American women are now official after the Board of Natural Resources approved them during its meeting Tuesday morning.
The proposals from tribes came in the wake of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s orders in 2021 to rename geographic features throughout the country to remove the derogatory term.
“By changing these names, we ensure that Washington’s geography will continue to reflect the history of Native American women on our landscape, but with the dignity and respect these women deserve,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, the elected official who chairs the Board of Natural Resources. “The beautiful, thoughtful cultural legacy these names provide to us all would not have been possible without the time, effort, and support that our state’s tribes have provided throughout this process.”
The Board, acting as the state Board on Geographic Names, also approved a spelling correction for the name of a bay in the San Juan Islands during Tuesday’s meeting.
The Washington State Committee on Geographic Names previously approved the names during its October 22, 2022, meeting, forwarding them to the Board of Natural Resources.
PROPOSALS FROM THE CONFEDERATED TRIBES AND BANDS OF THE YAKAMA NATION
The pair of Columbia River islands in Klickitat County is now named Sq’wanana, meaning “two sitting on lap.” The name reflects the names of the islands in the Wishxam language.
The Skamania County lake southeast of Blue Lake is now 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 is now 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 is now 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 is now 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 is now 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 peak in Okanogan County is now named 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 Stevens County is now named 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 is now named Noskeliikuu, meaning “the place where the whale dropped.” The name has been used in Quinault tribal histories for at least four generations.
SAN JUAN COUNTY
In addition to the naming proposals for initial approval that came in the wake of the Secretary of the Interior’s executive order, the Board approved one other name. Reads Bay in San Juan County is now named 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.
The approved names will be added to the Washington Administrative Code.
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.