Phew. Finalists chosen to name this new Washington state ferry – but some hesitation remains

There are now six finalists in this call from the State Transportation Commission to name a new state ferry.

With the exception of one submission, there was no surprises: Wishkah, Stillaguamish, Snoqualmie, Stehekin, Muckleshoot and Enie Marie. The latter is the most surprising.

But like everyone else, if you had been told that there was already a ferry called the Wishkah, would most of you have known the difference?

After our September 27 article on how many of you sent joke names, the number of suggestions to the committee dropped from 330 to 917. So you obviously have a keen interest in naming a ferry, in addition to the handful of names you submitted directly to the newspaper.

Until then, many of the names proposed were more of the type M / V Sir Floats-A-Lot, The Krakenator, Always Late or MV DB Cooper.

Reema Griffith, the executive director of the commission, says, yes, they were funny, but, come on. The agency wanted you to take this a little more seriously.

After all, this new ferry would only be number 22 in the fleet. It has been a decade since a new boat was added to the aging fleet.

Built in 2022 and slated to sail in 2024, the new ferry will be a significant environmental addition, running primarily on electricity and using diesel engines for backup and to recharge batteries.

In this September 27 story there was a proposed name that was not accepted.

This was to call it the Kalakala II, in honor of the memorable art deco styling boat which persisted indefinitely in a state of disrepair until 2015, when it was finally taken apart for disposal.

Cheri Filion of Whidbey Island, who pushed for the name, is understandably disappointed.

“That’s an understatement, especially when you look at what they chose instead,” she says of the rejection.

Filion had spent a considerable amount of time researching the history of the sad Kalakala, with his rounded nose and a body made of steel plates covered with a shiny aluminum paint. It was once a luxury cruiser, going on night-time dance cruises with its own eight-piece orchestra.

The commission placed the Kalakala II among the 13 finalists, but it was not among the top six.

The others:

Kalaloch (beach used by the Quinaults to disembark canoes), Bernie Whitebear (activist for tribal causes), Hoh (name of the river, derived from “fast moving water” or “snow water”), Saratoga (passage between Whidbey and Camano Island), Koma Kulshan (tribal name of Mount Baker, meaning ‘great white watcher’), Kulshan (one of the state’s first steel-hulled liners), Sholeetsa (mother of the chief Seattle), Skykomish (translates to “people of the interior”) De-Dowble-Sa (submitted by one of his descendants; De-Dowble-Sa’s father was one of the signatories of the Point Elliott Treaty which led at the creation of the Tulalip, Port Madison, Swinomish and Lummi Reserves), Robert Moran (Mayor of Seattle who led the modernization after the Great Seattle Fire of 1889), Nidoto Nai Yoni (in Japanese for “Let it ne se reproduce ”, to recognize the Japanese-American history on the island of Bainbridge and its surroundings), Hamma Hamma (river of the Olympic peninsula).

All of our current ferries have tribal meanings in their names, and the commission wanted the proposals to include their historical context. This can sometimes be problematic.

Enie Marie is obviously not a household name like Muckleshoot, especially with his “Biggest and Best in the Northwest!” casino advertisements, submitted by the tribe. The Snoqualmie and Stillaguamish tribes also sent their own names. The other three names proposed came from individuals.

Zack Hudgins, former state representative for the Tukwila region, and now privacy officer for the state technical office, proposed the name.

Enie Marie, as Hudgins calls her, was Chief Seattle’s great-granddaughter.

Hudgins says he was on a sailing trip around Bainbridge Island when the conversation turned to the man who gave the town its name. His grave is in Suquamish on the Kitsap Peninsula across from the island.

“When I got home, I started searching the Internet to find out a bit more about where I had been,” he says. “As I learned more, I tried to follow interesting people I read about.”

The Internet.

According to Dennis Lewarch, Historical Preserver for the Suquamish Tribe, “When you take something off the Internet, you don’t know what references they looked at or if they were citing correct references. They don’t go to primary sources.

A primary source is an immediate, first-hand account, the preferable historical source.

In an email, Hudgins provided a long list of sources he used.

In her submission to the commission, Hudgins wrote that Enie Marie “was a woman who has been little talked about, yet is representative of the region, of that symbolic bond past and present… She had“ one leg in two canoes ”. “Enie Marie” Talisa Seattle lived both in the Salish world of her grandfather and in the Euro-American immigrant world of her husband William DeShaw. “

Now for some historical quibbles.

A Seattle Times History the day after her death on March 11, 1946, at the age of 82, identified her as Enna Marie Thompson, not Enie Marie. And, says Lewarch, she was not Chief Seattle’s granddaughter, as Hudgins writes in his proposal, but his great-granddaughter.

And she was not married to William DeShaw, he said, but was the daughter of his first wife.

DeShaw himself was one of those characters in Puget Sound history who fit the description of “colorful”. There were many who ended up here.

He had a trading post at the tip of Bainbridge Island, was at one point “the de facto Indian agent in this area”, says Lewarch, “and” played quickly and freely with the stories. ”

Lewarch raised a few other points.

Some traditionalist tribal members might not be keen on naming a ferry after a deceased person. It’s to pass on within the family, he says.

Chief Seattle’s descendants should also be asked to name the ferry Enie Marie, he said. Hudgins says no.

And if a ferry has to be named after a tribal individual, what about a more famous ferry, like Princess Angeline, daughter of Chief Seattle? There are the famous photos of Princess Angeline in a waterfront cabin near the coal bunkers at the foot of Pike Street in downtown Seattle.

You have until November 12 to indicate your preference with the commission in a group of line ferry passengers. It can be found at

The committee votes on the new name on December 14.

It’s never easy, is it, when you ask for public opinion?

About Wendy Hall

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