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Eight Indigenous Names Proposed For New State Ferry

The Washington State Transportation Commission will consider eight proposed indigenous names for its newest state 144-car state ferry.

The Washington State Transportation Commission will consider eight proposed names for its newest state 144-car state ferry.

The names proposed, in alphabetical order: Chimacum, Cowlitz, Illahee, Nawt-sa-mat, Sammamish, Suquamish, Taima, and Tukwila. Construction of the ferry is scheduled to begin in fall and its name announced in November.

Chimacum, Cowlitz, Sammamish and Suquamish are First Peoples of the state. Illahee is the name of an earlier state ferry. Tukwila is a Duwamish place name. Nawt-sa-mat is the name of a new regional coalition of Natives and non-Natives working to protect the environmental health of the Salish Sea; according to the coalition, Nawt-sa-maat is a Coast Salish word meaning “One house, one heart, one prayer,” or “United in power.” Taina is the name of the hawk that leads the Seattle Seahawks football team out of the tunnel before its home games.

The state commission invited name proposals until September 12. Among its rules: Names should carry statewide significance and represent the state's image and culture: names of indigenous nations; state-adopted symbols; names of bodies of water; geographic locations, cities or counties; nautical heritage.

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Many of the 23 vessels in Washington State Ferries' fleet have names reflecting the state’s indigenous heritage. The two newest ferries are named Tokitae, the original name of a Salish Sea killer whale kept at Sea World in Florida; and Samish, an indigenous nation from San Juan, Lopez, Fidalgo, Guemes and Samish islands.

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