Tribal Alliance Seeks To Restore Native Name For Mount Rainier

Feb 7, 2012

ROY, Wash. - Mount Rainier was once known by its many native names. Now, an alliance of tribal members is moving forward with a proposal to restore an original name to this Northwest landmark. But a long bureaucratic process lies ahead, as correspondent Tom Banse reports.

British explorers named Mount Rainier for a Navy captain who fought to put down the American Revolution. Puyallup tribal member Robert Satiacum says what he's proposing is not a name change so much as a restoration.

"When they showed up here it got changed. They changed it. That's part of the process I think when you conquer," Satiacum says.

The question then becomes which original name to use.

"Tahoma, Tacobeh, Pooskaus, Tacoma ... There are all these different names," he says.

Satiacum says members of his group pondered and prayed before choosing Ti'Swaq'.

"And what that means is the sky, the sky wiper. It touches the sky," Satiacum says.

Satiacum's Alliance to Restore Native Names is first seeking the support of the National Park Service. A Mount Rainier spokesman says the agency doesn't currently have a position and may not take one.

Then it's on to the Washington and U.S. Boards of Geographic Names, a process that could take years. Those panels typically demand evidence of broad local support for any name change.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio