[12/13/17] Squaw Creek Near Methow Is Now Swaram Creek After Official Name Change

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What’s in a name? Sometimes, thousands of years of history.

The Board of Natural Resources, which is part of the Washington State DNR, acting in its role as the State Board on Geographic Names, approved the official name change for a creek whose name was considered offensive. Formerly known as Squaw Creek, the 6-mile-long stream located southwest of Methow in Okanogan County was renamed Swaram Creek. The name, proposed by residents of Okanagan County, is based on a word from the Methow language meaning “torch light fishing at night.” Although the Methow People have always called that particular creek “Swaram Creek.” It wasn’t until European settlers used the easier to pronounce word “Squaw” when referring to the creek and eventually became it’s official name.

Bob Redling is Public Information Officer with the Board of Natural Resources and speaks to how the name change came about…

121317 Swaram Creek 1 :14 “…process and met the standard.”

Swaram Creek isn’t the first feature on the landscape to go through a name change due to a previously offensive name. But it will take some time before the name change shows up on Google Maps…

121317 Swaram Creek 2 :47 “…it called by its new name.”

According to Bob Redling, if you spend a lot of time outdoors recreating or in the backcountry, chances are you’ve come across a stream or a creek or an outcropping that you know by a particular name but that feature may have no official name….

121317 Swaram Creek 3 :20 “…them still yet to come.”

If you would like to propose a name or a name change for a geographic feature in the state of Washington, you can do so online. Again Bob Redling…

121317 Swaram Creek 4 :06 “…qualified and what’s not.”

The name change will be made on state maps, but in order to get it into the federal database of official names, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names has to approve the state’s recommendation. And that could take some time.