WA geographical sites renamed after Black homesteaders
A lake and a wetland in Washington state are soon to have new names in honor of two early Black settlers on the Kitsap Peninsula.
A 10.5-acre acre lake near Tahuya, Wash. will soon be called "Nathaniel Sargent Lake." Sargent was a Black man born into slavery who homesteaded near Seabeck. He died in 1954.
A nearby 18-acre wetland will now be known as Rodney White Slough. White was also born into slavery in Missouri. He began homesteading in Mason County in 1890, started an orchard, and lived there until his death in 1913.
Both the geographical sites near where Sargent and White lived in Mason County previously had names which included a racial slur toward Black people.
“The stories of Rodney White and Nathaniel Sargent are important," said U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer, Mason County’s representative in Congress. "They made positive impacts on their communities, but they are not widely known. I’m proud to have supported this effort because renaming these locations in Mason County recognizes their contributions and impacts that might have been forgotten due to the color of their skin.”
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Two other locations in Washington state are also getting name upgrades. Their previous titles included terms that are derogatory toward Indigenous women.
South Tucannon Spring is the new name for a spring in Garfield County. The name is derived from "tukanin," meaning bread root.
And Gooseberry Creek is the new name for a creek in Okanogan County. Gooseberries are common in the area. The stream is near Aeneas and is two miles long.
The name changes were approved by the Washington State Board of Natural Resources on Tuesday, Feb. 7.
Dyer Oxley contributed to this report.