Community ponders possible Soap Lake name change | Environment
Soap Lake’s history goes back thousands of years starting with the Missoula Floods that swept across the region. In more recent history, the mineral qualities of the lake attracted Native Americans and later a sanitarium that opened in 1907.
Microbiology researchers have even compared the chemistry of the lake to the moons of Jupiter because of its alkalinity. With history like that, would you risk changing the name? That’s what members of the community are tasked with this year. The lake’s name is on the chopping block.
Public comment is currently being taken for a Department of Natural Resources proposal that could change the soapy theme and dub the geographic feature as Lake Smokiam to reflect its history as a spiritual sanctuary for indigenous people.
The change is on the current list of proposals for the Washington State Committee on Geographic Names. If approved, the new name would begin to appear on published maps for public safety and emergency services.
Talk of a name change has already been on the record since last year when it was first proposed. Several pages of public comment has been received, either supporting or disapproving the change, including comments from the mayor of Soap Lake, Wayne Hovde, who wrote last year that he appreciates the “historic” value of the proposal, but is not supportive of change believing it would have a negative economic impact on already established advertising.
One supporter, Kim Anderson, supports the change saying the change would return the area to its roots, embracing Native American history.
“Our town is trying to grow with the times, we are trying to return out image to something more positive and progressive,” Anderson wrote in an email to the committee. “I believe that Smokiam more clearly reflects this new image of peacefulness and healing, which is actually the old, or original image that brought people to this area in the first place.”
One last public public meeting will be held later this year to give final consideration to the proposed name change. It’s not until May, so until then, you can still explain how you feel about the situation.
You can either mail: Washington State Committee on Geographic Names, PO Box 47030, Olympia, WA 98604. Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline for advance public comment is May 17th at 5 p.m. The public meeting is May 18th from 1-5 p.m. in Olympia.