Place Names In Washington

Recently I enjoyed a browse through The Atlas of the North American Indian, by Carl Waldman, first published in 1985 and updated in 2009. I found the pages explaining the Northwest Indians and their culture to be so interesting.

One unexpected thing I gleaned from this book was a list of place names in Washington that are of native origins. Could you have come up with this list of 73 places?? (The list does include two names of French derivation.)

“TN” denotes a tribal-origin name. Places were tribal names, chief’s names, or of Indian derivation. For some names, the tribe was designated and for others it was not. Sometimes the meaning was given and sometimes not. Enjoy!

Anatone – TN

Asotin – Nez Perce “elk creek”

Cathlamet – TN

Chehalis – TN “sand”

Chewelah – TN

Chimacum – TN

Chinook – TN

Clallam – TN “big brave nation”

Conconully – TN “cloudy”

Copalis – TN

Cowlitz – TN “power”

Ilwaco – Chief El-Wah-ko-Jim

Entiat – TN “rapid water”

Kalotus – TN “hole in the ground”

Kittitas – TN “shoal people”

Klickitat – TN “beyond”

Latah – Nez Perce “place of pines”

Methow – TN

Moclips – Quinault “place where girls were sent during puberty rites”

Napavine – TN “small prairie”

Naselle – TN

Nespelem – TN

Nisqually – TN

Okanogan – TN “meeting place”

Omak – TN

Palouse – TN “grassy expanse”

Pend Oreille – French; “ear pendants”

Potlach – TN “give”

Puyallup – TN “generous people”

Queets – TN

Quilcene – TN

Quillayute – TN

Quinault – TN

Sanpoil – TN

Seattle – Chief Sealth

Selah – TN “still water”

Sequim – TN “quiet water”

Simcoe – TN “waist spine”

Similk – TN

Skagit – TN

Skamania – TN “swift water”

Skamokawa – Chief name

Skykomish – TN “inland people”

Snohomish – TN

Snoqualmie – TN “moon”

Spokane – TN “people of the sun”

Stehekin – TN “pass”

Steilacoom – Chief name

Sultan – Chief name

Suquamish – TN

Tacoma – TN “mountain god”

Tenino – TN

Tieton – TN “roaring water”

Toppenish – TN

Touchet – French; “fire cured salmon”

Toutle – TN

Tucannon – TN “bread root”

Tukwila – TN “land of hazelnuts”

Tulalip – TN “by with small mouth”

Tumwater – TN “heart”

Twisp – TN

Wahkiakum – Chief name

Walla Walla – TN “little river”

Washtucna – Chief name

Waukon – Chief name

Wauna – TN “spout creature”

Wenatchee – TN “river from canyon”

Whatcom – Chief name

Willapa – TN

Yacolt – TN “haunted place”

Yakima – TN “growing families”

3 comments on “Place Names In Washington

  1. Hmmm, I grew up just outside of Issaquah and am surprised it is not on the list. Google says ““Issaquah” comes from the word meaning “the sound of water birds” in the language of the Lushootseed people, who included the Sammamish, Snoqualmie, Duwamish and other area tribes.” and cites

  2. Donna Phillips says:

    Good point, Valorie. Was just quoting from that book……maybe I missed Issaquah!

  3. Kathleen Sizer says:

    Very interesting list of names. I have always been interested in the names of places and what they originally meant. Thanks, Donna.

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