The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) adopted nine tribal proposals Tuesday, replacing derogatory names used for indigenous women to names that reflect tribal history and culture.

Back in 2021, the U.S. Department of the Interior ordered state agencies to rename any landmark that featured the derogatory term “squaw,” a racial slur used against indigenous women.

This term was featured in 18 landmarks within 14 counties statewide: Chelan, Clallam, Clark, Columbia, Garfield, Jefferson, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Pierce, Skamania, and Stevens.

Since both the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation have historical claims to these areas, they will need to collaborate on creating new names for these regional landmarks.

Both tribes proposed a new name for what was originally named “Squaw Lake.”

Colville Reservation proposed to rename it Masawii Lake, for the indian parsnip that would be collected in the Wenatchi tribal area.

Yakama Nation proposed to rename it Wowpu-tushwa, to commemorate the Wowpum group, a sub-group of the Wenatchapum group. Yakama Nation wrote that the goat people were extinguished in that area.

For the formerly-named “Squaw Creek Ridge” based in Okanogan County, the Colville Reservation suggested Swaram Creek Ridge, with “Swaram” meaning torchlight fishing originating from the Methow tribe, and Yakama Nation suggested Mokeihl.

Here is a list of accepted proposals from the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation:

  • A pair of Columbia River islands in Klickitat County is now named Sq’wanana, meaning “two sitting on lap” in the Wishxam language.
  • In Skamania County, a lake southeast of Blue Lake is named Aalvic Wahtum, named after the first Yakama Nation citizen Lucille Aalvic.
  • One of the twin buttes in that same county was renamed Pataniks Pushtye, referencing the name of Lulukash, the child of the woman originally named for the twin buttes.
  • The creek that rests alongside East Canyon Ridge was renamed Timla Wapykt, a traditional name of the neighboring butte, Timla-Timla Pushtye, meaning “little heart mountain of that shape.”
  • A stream that flows into Little White Salmon River is now named Shluxiksikswana, meaning “the eating place,” inspired by a nearby Klickitat village site.

Here is a list of accepted proposals from the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation:

  • In Columbia County, a peak located above the Wenaha River was renamed Wenaha Peak. Wenaha is a Cayuse name and was the territory of Chief Joseph Band of Nez Perce.
  • A peak in Okanogan County is now Condon Mountain, named after a Colville family residing in Kartar Valley and is similarly named after the Condon Spring.
  • A creek within Stevens County was renamed Snqilt Creek, which is the original name of the creek.

For more information on the submitted geographic names, visit this link.

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