Plan to change name of Soap Lake is rejected

SPOKANE — A state panel has rejected a plan to change the name of Soap Lake to the Salish word for healing waters, Smokiam.

The Spokesman-Review reported the state Committee on Geographic Names denied the proposal on Friday.

A proponent of the name change said the ancestors of the Colville Confederated Tribes called the 900-acre body of water Smokiam for 11,000 years.

When white settlers came to the area, they used several different names for the lake. After the town of Soap Lake was incorporated nearby, the lake gradually took on the same name but was never officially changed.

The Colville tribes, who spoke Salish, supported the name change, along with some residents interested in preserving the region’s history.

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