North Cascades lake, creek renamed to remove slur against African Americans

A North Cascades lake and creek that have long carried the names of racial slurs were renamed Thursday thanks to a unanimous vote by the United State Board of Geographic Names.

The National Park Service suggested Howard Lake and Howard Creek for the new names in honor of Wilson Howard, a black man who made two mining claims at the lake in 1892. The features in Lake Chelan National Recreation Area were previously called Coon Lake and Coon Creek.

The board had decided not to rename the features in 2009. Names for backcountry features are rarely changed, in part, to avoid confusion among rescue crews, Caleb Maki, staff member of the Washington State Committee on Geographic Names, told The News Tribune in September.

The board reconsidered its decision after additional investigation by the parks service verified the history of the area.

“We’re pleased that the board renamed these features for Wilson Howard,” Karen Taylor-Goodrich, superintendent for the North Cascades National Park Service Complex, said in a statement. “We rechecked the mining records for the area and took immediate action to rectify the situation. We will now begin the process of updating the maps and signs for the park.”