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9 sites across Washington that feature derogatory word for Native American women to be renamed

The various features include mountains, rivers, lakes and creeks across the state.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Nine tribal proposals to rename features across Washington state that once bore a derogatory term for Native American women were approved by the Board of Natural Resources Tuesday.

The various features include mountains, rivers, lakes and creeks across the state.

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.

The word “sq---” was declared derogatory in November 2021 by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, who established the federal renaming process.

“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 renaming process has not been completed. Nine out of the original 18 proposals have yet to be approved.

According to the Department of Natural Resources, they are still working with the tribes to find a resolution for the nine remaining proposals.

Changes from Confederated Tribes and Bands of Yakama Nation

  • The pair of Columbia River islands in Klickitat County is now named Sq’wanana, meaning “two sitting on lap.” 
  • The Skamania County lake southeast of Blue Lake is now named Aalvic Wahtum, after Lucille Aalvic. She 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.

Changes 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 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.

Change 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.

In addition to the nine proposals for new names, 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.

Washingtonians were able to provide public comment on the matter in 2021.

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