Council of Geographic Names Authorities
in the United States

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Program

 

Tuesday, June 19th

Registration & Opening Reception

Washington State Historical Society Museum

  • 2:00—5:00 p.m. Registration opens 
  • 5:00—5:30 p.m. Refreshments
  • 5:30—7:00 p.m. Welcoming
 

Wednesday, June 20th

University of Washington, Tacoma

Jane Russell Commons, William W. Philip Hall

  • 8:00 a.m.  Registration opens
  • 8:30—9:00 a.m.  Housekeeping announcements, opening remarks
  • 9:00—10:00 a.m. COGNA Business Meeting
  • 10:00—10:30 a.m. Break
  • 10:30 a.m.—Noon: State Reports
  • 12:00—1:30 p.m. Lunch break
  • 1:30—3:00 p.m. Washington State Geographic Names Committee Meeting
  • 3:00—3:30 p.m. Break
  • 3:30—4:00 p.m. Early Place Names in Whatcom County, Washington: Grant Smith
  • 4:00—4:30 p.m. The Hudson’s Bay Company Era: A Legacy of South Puget Sound Place Names: Drew Crooks
  • 4:30—4:45 p.m. DuPont, Washington: Naming a Company Town: Jennifer Crooks
  • 4:45—5:00 p.m. Reserved for Lightning talk

 

Thursday, June 21st

  • 8:30 a.m.  Registration opens
  • 8:30—10:00 a.m. U.S. BGN Staff Reports
  • 10:00—10:30 a.m. Break
  • 10:30 a.m. —Noon U.S. BGN Cases
  • 12:00—1:30 p.m. Lunch
  • 1:30--3:00 p.m. State/Federal Roundtable:
  • 3:00—3:30 p.m. Break
  • 3:30—4:00 p.m. BGN Tribal Geographic Names Policy (Policy X): Betsy Kanalley; U.S. Forest Service
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  • 4:00—4:30 p.m. The Mount McKinley-Denali Controversy and the U.S. Board on Geographic Names: Douglas L. Vandegraft; Chief of the Geospatial Services Division, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

  • 4:30—4:45 p.m. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Board on Geographic Names: Tara Wallace; NOAA
  • 4:45—5:00 p.m. Reserved for Lightning talk

 

Friday, June 22nd

Papers and Discussions on General Interest Topics

·      8:30—9:00 a.m. Wisconsin’s Name – The Dream of All Geographers. Sure!: Edward Callary

·      9:00—9:30 a.m.  The Geographical Research of Jules Jetté: James Kari (Alaska Native Language Center) & David Kingma (Jesuit Oregon       Province Archives)

·      9:30—10:00 a.m. Places of Power: Examining French Toponymic Spatial Patterns in the Mississippi River Basin: Marcelle Caturia; Student Trainee (Geographer), GNIS/Names Support Unit, US Geological Survey - National Geospatial Technical Operations Center

·      10:00—10:30 a.m. Break

        ·      10:30 a.m.—11:00 a.m. Mount Tacoma: How Civic Boosterism and Native American Appropriation Perpetuate the Fight Over Mount Rainier: Mary Paynton Schaff, Designee of the State Librarian for the Washington Committee on Geographic Names


·      11:00—11:30 a.m. Place Names on Pitcairn: A (Quick) Look at Culture on the Landscape: Christine K. Johnson, PhD University of Nevada, Reno; Departments of Anthropology and Geography

·      11:30—11:45 a.m. The South Dakota Board on Geographic Names (SDBGN) Public Involvement Process: David Reiss; SDBGN Administrator; Sr. Policy Advisor; SD Department of Tribal Relations

·      11:45—12:00 noon  Reserved for Lightning Talk or early lunch break

·      12:00—1:30 p.m. Lunch Break


        ·      1:30—3:00 p.m. Panel Discussion on Native American Place Names: Panel members; Brandon Reynon, Puyallup Tribe, Betsy Kanalley,     US  Forest Service, Mike Iyall, Washington Committee on Geographic Names/Cowlitz Tribe and Nile Thompson, Dushuyay Research 

·      3:00—3:30 p.m. Break

·      3:30—4:00 p.m. Conference Wrap-up

·      4:00—5:00 p.m. Executive Committee Meeting: Everyone else, On your own!


·               Friday, June 22nd

·               Closing Reception

·               Washington State Historical Society Museum

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·      6:00— 7:00 p.m. Reception Dinner

·      7:00—9:00 p.m. Nile Thompson, Closing-Keynote Speaker: Nile worked on the Waterlines project http://www.burkemuseum.org/static/waterlines/ and is an expert at Native American geography and place names issues. 

 

 

Saturday, June 23rd

Optional Event

Toponymic Tour

8:00 a.m.—7:00 p.m.


Itinerary: 

  • Point Defiance Gardens
    Ferry Ride to Vashon Island
    Town of Vashon featuring the Vashon Farmer’s Market, Vashon Heritage Museum, and Vashon shops
    Dockton and Maury Island
    Tour of Point Robinson Lighthouse
    Dinner on your own at Anthony’s at Point Defiance


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ABSTRACTS
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Early Place Names in Whatcom County, Washington

Grant Smith


This paper will describe early place names of Whatcom County, Washington in order to show the historical and linguistic background of the European settlers in the region and their cultural interchange with one another and with the Indian tribes already in residence. Primary focus will be on the basic patterns established by the initial cultural  exchange that remain dominant, and relatively little attempt will be made to trace the later overlay of commercial or other social interests. My sources will include thirteen local histories, standard place name studies, early maps, pamphlets, and family manuscripts (mostly from my own family but from others too). These sources are not exhaustive but more than sufficient to illustrate the persistent cultural patterns established by the early contact of settlers and resident Indians. My analysis will rely on George R. Stewart’s classification of place names, which is based on the mechanisms of naming rather than on the motives, and I shall handout copies of that classification with my tabulations on names. Ambiguities in Stewart’s classification system will be noted, but no attempt will be made to correct or justify it. Its general usefulness in describing a cultural pattern will be apparent in my analysis.

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The Hudson’s Bay Company Era: A Legacy of South Puget Sound Place Names

Drew Crooks

Place names reflect a region’s history. In the South Puget Sound area of Western Washington there are numerous names bestowed by people who once lived or visited here. One set of place names are associated with the Hudson’s Bay Company (or HBC) era of the nineteenth century. The HBC, a British corporation, operated trading posts across what is now Canada and the Pacific Northwest.

In the South Puget Sound region the HBC ran from 1833 to 1870 a successive series of posts all called Nisqually. Today the sites of these stations are located in the city of DuPont, Pierce County, Washington. In the nineteenth century multicultural HBC employees at Nisqually traded for furs with Native Americans, farmed on a large scale, and sold supplies to American settlers.

From this kaleidoscope of human activity came a number of place names for geographic features in South Puget Sound. Much of this nomenclature has disappeared over time, but some names have survived to the present. These surviving terms, due to the multicultural nature of the HBC workforce, come from Native American, French Canadian, and British sources.

This illustrated presentation by historian Drew Crooks will first briefly examine the HBC era, and then discuss in detail a sampling of surviving HBC era names in South Puget Sound and their historical significance.

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DuPont, Washington: Naming a Company Town 


Jennifer Crooks

DuPont, Washington lies in Pierce County, Washington. Though the area is noted for its Native American and Hudson’s Bay Company history, this brief talk will focus on the company town founded in 1909. DuPont Village was built by the E. I. du Pont de Nemours Company to house workers for their nearby explosives plant. Named after the Company, this planned community’s streets were named after the Company’s other plants around the country. After the Company closed the plant in the 1970s, DuPont has undergone many changes and undergone rapid growth, but naming trends still reflect the area’s history. For example, streets in the new Northwest Landing development were specially picked to reflect local history in the hopes of strengthening community identity.

 
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BGN Tribal Geographic Names Policy (Policy X)

Betsy Kanalley; U.S. Forest Service

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN) Principles, Policies, and Procedures: Domestic Geographic Names (PPP), revised December 2016, includes a new interim policy on Tribal Geographic Names (Policy X). This presentation will provide an overview of the new Tribal Geographic Names policy and resulting procedural changes.  The presentation will highlight how the BGN handles geographic names submitted by Tribes* under the new policy. And will look at the procedural changes for informing Tribes about all geographic names proposals received by the BGN.

 “Tribe” means an Indian Tribe that the Secretary of the Interior acknowledges to exist as an Indian Tribe pursuant to the Federally Recognized Indian Tribe List Act of 1994, as amended (25 U.S.C. 479a-1).



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The Mount McKinley-Denali Controversy and the U.S. Board on Geographic Names

Douglas L. Vandegraft

1110 Cypress Tree Place

Herndon, VA  20170

For thousands of years, the highest point in North America has been known by Native Alaskans as Denali.  In 1898, the name Mount McKinley was first applied to Federal maps of Alaska.  In 1975, Governor Jay Hammond of Alaska requested that the government officially change the name to Denali.  However, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN) did not process the proposal due to the actions of congressmen from Ohio who wanted the mountain to be forever named McKinley.  The BGN has a policy of not acting on name issues that are the subject of pending congressional legislation.  In July 2015, an upcoming visit to Alaska by President Barack Obama and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell provided an opportunity for the BGN to finally help resolve the issue.  The author was the Chairman of the Domestic Names Committee of the BGN at the time, and was involved in preparing briefing materials for Secretary Jewell.

BIO: Douglas Vandegraft is the Chief


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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Board on Geographic Names

Tara Wallace

 

Since its formation in 1807, the Coast Survey – currently known as NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey, has been a proponent of standardized place names.  In the early 1800’s, there was a need for documenting geographic names during the surveying and mapping of the United States.  Geographic names were assessed and documented as part of the survey process. Detailed reports were submitted that included a general description of the area, as well as a list of names and an authoritative source for each recorded name.


Geographic names are one of many sources used to compile a nautical chart, electronic navigational chart, and Coast Pilot.  These navigational products are legal documents that require our cartographers to track all changes made to each new edition, including geographic names.  NOAA complies with the U.S. policy of “one feature, one name” by using only official names found in GNIS.  Historic and secondary names are important in the culture of local residents, but standardized geographic names are vital references for emergency responders, navigators, and others. Names not found in the GNIS may be included in original source documents processed by NOAA’s Nautical Data Branch.  These new geographic names are not added to nautical charts until they are approved by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names.

 

 

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Wisconsin’s Name – The Dream of All Geographers. Sure!

Edward Callary

 

Wisconsin’s name has posed problems for linguists, historians and geographers for several centuries. It was first recorded as Miscousing by Marquette in 1673. Since then it has appeared in more than a dozen additional spellings, many unrecognizable to the modern eye. Also the name has been given more than a dozen interpretations, ranging from “muskrat lodge’ to ‘it is cold there.’ Even the great Henry Gannett was drawn into the etymological speculation wars, claiming that Wisconsin meant ‘holes in the banks of a stream in which birds nest’.

 

These speculative origins will be reviewed along with some more recent thinking (spoiler alert: some issues concerning Wisconsin’s name have been resolved; others are still pending.

 

Finally, I will say a few words on the kinds of etymological information should be recorded by surveyors, geographers, and toponomists in the field. These have varied complete to nonexistent; some of considerable importance to an understanding of the namescape and others immaterial.

 

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The Geographical Research of Jules Jetté

           James Kari (Alaska Native Language Center)

David Kingma (Jesuit Oregon Province Archives)

 

Upon his arrival in Nulato in November of 1898, the Jesuit scholar Jules Jetté (1864-1927) began for Denaakk’e (Koyukon) the broadest, most meticulously detailed and ethnologically rich research program that has ever been conducted for an Alaska Native language.  Jules Jetté’s methods for documenting place names were entirely of his own invention and were rigorous and scientific. During 2015-2018 with funding from the Alaska BIA ANCSA office and a project based at Tanana Chiefs Conference we are consolidating all of the Koyukon and other Dene place names that Jetté for a book to be titled The Geographical Research of Jules Jetté.

 

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Places of Power: Examining French Toponymic Spatial Patterns in the Mississippi River Basin

Marcelle Caturia

Student Trainee (Geographer)

GNIS/Names Support Unit

US Geological Survey - National Geospatial Technical Operations Center

 

Place-names, or toponyms, represent both location and symbolic meaning, and examining the spatial distribution of place-names across landscapes can reveal otherwise hidden cultural patterns. Including quantitative methods as part of the process of interpretive ethnocultural research has contributed to revitalizing modern scholarship in toponomy. This study takes a similar methodological approach by using spatial statistical methods to visualize general spatial patterns of French place-names in the Mississippi River Basin, combined with qualitative historical and cultural analysis of socio-political patterns at the more local scale of Minnesota.  Integrated analysis of toponymy enables us to better understand how and why French toponymic power changed over time, which yields useful insights to the region’s geography and history.

 

 

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Mount Tacoma: How Civic Boosterism and Native American Appropriation Perpetuate the Fight Over Mount Rainier

Mary Paynton Schaff, Designee of the State Librarian

for the Washington Committee on Geographic Names

 

While true Northwest natives refer to it only as “the Mountain,” the volcano that dominates the south Puget Sound skyline has been embroiled in a name controversy rivaling that of Mt McKinley/Denali. In 1792 George Vancouver dubbed the peak “Mount Rainier” to honor fellow British Navy officer and friend Rear Admiral Peter Rainier. Questions as to the appropriateness of the name “Mount Rainier” first appear to arise in territorial times when the fledgling community of Tacoma drew a direct connection between the name of their town and the name of the mountain. “’Tacoma’ is the Indian name for Mount Rainier!” has been the rallying call of generations of mostly white settlers whose greatest desire was to see the primary geographic landmark of western Washington tied irrevocably to the city that shares its name. As the years passed and Seattle and Tacoma battled over everything from railroad terminuses and port traffic to the respective quality of life in both cities, representatives from each called on Puget Sound tribes to provide evidence of naming claims – both proving and refuting the claim of Mount Tacoma. Linguists and scholars who specialize in Native American languages continue to examine the names attached to Rainier by the many tribes located in Washington, and much remains unknown about the historic usage of Tacoma or any of the other names associated with the mountain. And while the U.S. Board of Geographic Names is on record as insisting the Mount Rainier controversy is settled and won’t be revisited, civic pride and a renewed focus on the importance of Native names guarantee the Mount Tacoma controversy won’t be going away any time soon.


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Place Names on Pitcairn: A (Quick) Look at Culture on the Landscape

Christine K. Johnson, PhD – University of Nevada, Reno; Departments of Anthropology and Geography

 

There are tens of thousands of islands in the world, each unique, but situated in the South Pacific is perhaps one of the most unique – the very remote Pitcairn Island. Now home to the world’s largest and fully protected marine reserve, it is the still the legacy of the Mutiny on the Bounty that draws attention to this island.  As such, more than two centuries of occupation have left their mark, and the cultures of both the British settlers and their Polynesian companions are evidenced on this tiny landscape in place names. This talk will introduce you to Pitcairn Island and its interesting history by way of toponyms.

      

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The South Dakota Board on Geographic Names (SDBGN) Public Involvement Process

 

David Reiss

SDBGN Administrator

Sr. Policy Advisor

SD Department of Tribal Relations

 

This proposal to present a paper is prefaced upon acceptance to present in a lightning talk or abbreviated individual presentation discussing the SDBGN’s public involvement process for considering geographic name changes to place names which have been deemed offensive by the South Dakota Legislature. The SDBGN has established a rigorous and extensive hearing and public involvement process to gather information, public comments, and local government input when presented proposals for replacement names of geographic features or names for unnamed geographic places. The proposed paper will review the history of the SDBGN’s public involvement process, explain the current SDBGN process, and review how and why the SDBGN’s public involvement process has been changed through legislative action. Additionally, the paper will briefly discuss South Dakota open meeting law requirements, records retention, and provide an overview of recent government transparency efforts in South Dakota.


The SDBGN’s public involvement process and authority has changed largely due to a singular place name change consideration; the name change of Harney Peak to Black Elk Peak in the Black Hills region of western South Dakota. Due to high interest locally and regionally, the public comment and deliberation process the SDBGN executed in considering a name change to Harney Peak came under scrutiny from members of the state legislature. Following the USBGN’s decision to rename Harney Peak to Black Elk Peak, the South Dakota Legislature revised the authority granted to the SDBGN where it is limited to providing suggestions to the USBGN only if the Legislature deems a current name of a feature offensive. In response to revised board authority, the SDBGN has substantively changed the public involvement plan it utilizes to reflect changes in authorizing statute and abide by changes in state open meeting requirements. The paper will discuss these changes, the legislature’s intent, and how the SDBGN will consider name change submissions into the future.