There are now six finalists in that call-out by the state’s Transportation Commission to name a new state ferry.
Except for one submission, there were no surprises: Wishkah, Stillaguamish, Snoqualmie, Stehekin, Muckleshoot and Enie Marie. The latter is the surprising one.
But as for the others, if you had been told there already was a ferry named the Wishkah, would most of you have known the difference?
After our Sept. 27 story about how many of you sent in joke names, the number of suggestions to the commission jumped from some 330 to 917. So you obviously have a keen interest in naming a ferry, on top of the handful of names you submitted directly to the paper.
Up until then, a lot of proposed names were more along the lines of the M/V Sir Floats-A-Lot, The Krakenator, Always Late or the MV DB Cooper.
Reema Griffith, the commission’s executive director, says that, yes, they were funny, but, come on. The agency wanted you to take this a bit more seriously.
After all, this new ferry would only be number 22 in the fleet. It’s been three years since a new boat has been added to the aging flotilla.
To be built in 2022 and slated to sail in 2024, the new ferry is going to be a big environmental addition, running mostly on electric power and using diesel engines for backup and to recharge the batteries.
Featured in that Sept. 27 story was a proposed name that didn’t make the cut.
That was to call it the Kalakala II, in honor of the memorable art deco styling boat that lingered on and on in disrepair until 2015, when it was finally taken apart for scrap.
Cheri Filion, of Whidbey Island, who pushed for the name, is understandably disappointed.
“That’s an understatement, especially when you look at what they picked instead,” she says about the rejection.
Filion had spent considerable time researching the history of the forlorn Kalakala, with its rounded nose and a body made of steel plates coated with gleaming aluminum paint. It was once a fancy cruiser, going on night dance cruises that featured her own eight-piece orchestra.
The commission did put the Kalakala II as one of 13 finalists but it didn’t make the top six.
Kalaloch (beach used by Quinaults to land 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 for Mount Baker, meaning “great white watcher”), Kulshan (one of the state’s first steel-hulled passenger steamers), Sholeetsa (mother of Chief Seattle), Skykomish (translates to “inland people”) De-Dowble-Sa (submitted by one of her descendants; De-Dowble-Sa’s father was one of signers of the Point Elliott Treaty that led to the creation of the Tulalip, Port Madison, Swinomish and Lummi reservations), Robert Moran (Seattle mayor who led the modernization after the Great Seattle Fire of 1889), Nidoto Nai Yoni (Japanese for “Let it not happen again,” to recognize Japanese-American history on Bainbridge Island and surroundings), Hamma Hamma (river in the Olympic Peninsula).
All our current ferries have tribal meanings in their names, and the commission wanted the proposals to include the historical context for them. That sometimes can be problematic.
Enie Marie is obviously not a well-known name such as Muckleshoot, especially with its “The biggest & best in the Northwest!” casino commercials, submitted by the tribe. The Snoqualmie and Stillaguamish tribes also sent in their own names. The other three proposed names came from individuals.
Zack Hudgins, a former state representative for the Tukwila area, and now a privacy manager for the state’s tech office, proposed the name.
Enie Marie, as Hudgins refers to her, was the great-granddaughter of Chief Seattle.
Hudgins says he was on a sailing trip around Bainbridge Island when the conversation turned to the man after whom this city is named. His gravesite is in Suquamish in the Kitsap Peninsula across from the island.
“When I got home, I began to look around on the internet to learn a bit about where I had been,” he says. “As I learned more, I tried to track the interesting people who I was reading about.”
Says Dennis Lewarch, historic preservation officer 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, firsthand account, the preferable historical source.
In an email, Hudgins provided a long list of sources he used.
In his submission to the commission, Hudgins wrote that Enie Marie, “was a woman that little was written about, and yet is representative of the region, of this symbolic past and present connection … She had ‘a leg in two canoes.’ ‘Enie Marie” Talisa Seattle lived in both the Salish world of her grandfather, and the immigrant Euro-American world of her husband William DeShaw.”
Now for some historical quibbles.
A Seattle Times story the day after she died March 11, 1946, at age 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 says, but was his daughter from his first wife.
DeShaw himself was one of those characters in Puget Sound history who fit the description of “colorful.” There were lots of them 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 that area” says Lewarch, “and “played fast and loose with stories.”
Lewarch raised a couple of other points.
Some traditionalist tribal members might not be enthused about naming a ferry after a dead person. That’s for passing on within the family, he says.
Descendants of Chief Seattle also should be asked naming the ferry Enie Marie, he says. Hudgins says he hasn’t.
And if a ferry is to be named after a tribal individual, what about a better-known one, such as Princess Angeline, daughter of Chief Seattle? There are the famous photos of Princess Angeline at a waterfront shack near the coal bunkers at the foot of Pike Street in downtown Seattle.
You have until Nov. 12 to put in your preference with the commission in an online ferry riders group. It’s found at wstc.wa.gov.
The commission is voting Dec. 14 on the new name.
It’s never simple, is it, when you ask for public input?
Correction: Chief Sealth’s grave is in Suquamish on the Kitsap Peninsula, across from Bainbridge Island, not on the island, as stated in an earlier version of this story.
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