Campaign To Change Racist Lake Name Gets 50 New Allies | KUOW News and Information

Campaign To Change Racist Lake Name Gets 50 New Allies

Sep 25, 2015

Fifty Washington lawmakers have made an impassioned plea to change the name of a North Cascades lake on federal maps to remove the possibility that it represents a racial slur.

The state Board of Geographic Names changed Coon Lake to Howard Lake in 2007, but the federal government did not follow suit.

The state change followed a campaign by a Seattle man with ties to the Stehekin area who had noticed the old name on federal maps.

In a letter sent Wednesday to U.S. senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, the state lawmakers said the state board renamed the lake in honor of Wilson Howard, a black prospector who staked claims in the area in the late 1800s.

The legislators – Democrats and Republicans – said the change was “advocated by a range of citizens, local residents and property owners, along with the Chelan County Board of Commissioners and the Chelan County sheriff.”

“We are very disappointed to learn that the federal government has to date refused to ratify the state’s decision – normally a pro-forma matter,” the letter to the senators said.

“We urge you to work with the administration and your colleagues to right this wrong … and make our national parks welcoming to all people.”

Read more on KUOW about the issue and other places in the state with names seen as racist.

Read the full letter below:

WA Legislature letter Howard Lake 9-2015 (PDF)