You can no longer visit Coon Lake. Well, you can, but it won't be called that anymore. Now it's Howard Lake. The North Cascades lake's name was changed by the federal government last year and renamed for an African American prospector who settled near there. The stigma surrounding the derogatory name of this one place was gone.
That's a mission that state Sen. Pramila Jayapal and the Washington Department of Natural Resources have decided to extend to the entire state of Washington. They've identified 36 racially offensive names of places and geographic points and are starting a campaign to change them for our modern times.
They've plotted out each of the badly-named spots on a map here and called attention to the names themselves just so people get an idea of what they're talking about. The idea that there are still places called Jim Crow Creek, Negro Spring, and Coon Bay nearby are all a bit too much to believe. Not to mention the myriad places like Redman Creek and Squaw Lake that make poor reference to Native Americans.
Jayapal told Crosscut that the first place on the list to change is Coon Creek in King County (one of two in the region). After that they'll work on the three separate places named for Jim Crow in Wahkiakum County. There are many obstacles and a ton of red tape ahead but many would argue that it's beyond time to put these terms behind us and make every inch of Washington State welcoming to everyone.
· Racist names to be scrubbed from Washington maps [CC]
· Righting an historic wrong: Coon Lake is officially changed to Howard Lake [SPI]
· Offensive place names in Washington state [SDC]