State committee OKs renaming proposals 

Leader News Staff
news@ptleader.com
Posted 11/2/22

The Washington State Committee on Geographic Names approved nine proposals to rename features bearing a derogatory term that refers to Indigenous women during its meeting last week.

The proposals …

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State committee OKs renaming proposals 

Posted

The Washington State Committee on Geographic Names approved nine proposals to rename features bearing a derogatory term that refers to Indigenous women during its meeting last week.

The proposals from Tribes followed orders from the U.S. Department of the Interior last year to rename geographic features throughout the country.

During the Oct. 25 meeting, the committee approved a proposal from the Quinault Indian Nation to rename a derogatorily named creek in Jefferson County. The creek will renamed Noskeliikuu, meaning “the place where the whale dropped.” Officials said the name has been used in Quinault tribal histories for at least four generations.

Last week the committee also approved a spelling correction for the name of a bay in the San Juan Islands, as well as four proposals for initial consideration in Mason, Garfield, and Okanogan counties.

The committee deferred consideration, however, of two naming proposals for a passage between Marrowstone Island and Indian Island to allow additional community discussion. 

One proposal, Kilisut Passage, is drawn from Chinook Jargon, while a second proposal, the Clallam word for “a passage through,” was provided by the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. This is a traditional place name for the passage, which was a significant travel route for S’Klallam and Chemacum peoples in the 18th and 19th centuries before being blocked by a causeway for approximately 100 years. 

The passage was reopened in 2019, reconnecting Kilisut Harbor with Oak Bay to its south.

Committee officials noted that each geographic name-change proposal is reviewed twice, allowing for public comment and tribal consultation. Following these discussions, the committee decides whether to recommend that the Board of Natural Resources approve a name proposal.

Once the committee approves proposals that are up for final consideration, it sends 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.

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