As a third-generation Tacoman, I felt a bit of a heretic after reading your editorial (TNT, 9-1) calling for Mount Rainier to be restored to Mount Tacoma, yet finding myself unpersuaded. After all, generations ago the campaign of true Tacomans to rename The Mountain “Tacoma” reached the proportions of a crusade. But now, the name given by Capt. George Vancouver has the sanction both of history and time.
Your claim that the name “Rainier” is “cultural imperialism” is greatly overstated. Washington has a fine record of honoring native place-names. Ours is the only state whose three largest cities bear Indian names: Seattle (the Duwamish leader), Tacoma (The Mountain), and Spokane (the Plateau tribe). So also with other cities: Yakima, Wenatchee, Walla Walla and Puyallup are only a few of many.
Most of our rivers retain native names. On the west side alone, from the Skagit in the north to the Cowlitz in the south, there are a dozen. The Columbia’s main tributaries have Indian names, including the mighty Snake, the English translation of a Shoshone term.
Capt. Vancouver’s nomenclature is part of our deep and varied history. You rightly say “non-Indian names are not holy writ.” The reverse is also true.