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Squ Qui faces competition as Keystone ferry name

New state regulations mean a Whidbey Island effort to name a new ferry will become competitive.

Several Coupeville groups and the Swinomish Tribal Community teamed up to float a proposal to name the second 64-car vessel to be built by the ferry system the Squi Qui. He was the leader of the Lower Skagit tribe and one of the signers of the Point Elliot Treaty.

Since the name was submitted to the Washington State Transportation Commission in November, the state has released new guidelines for naming state ferries.

“Hopefully all names will be given equal consideration,” said Rick Castellano, executive director for the Island County Historical Society.

Only one other proposal has been submitted to the Transportation Commission. The San Juan County Council wants the ferry to be named the Salish, which refers to the Coast Salish People living in the Pacific Northwest and is also the geographical name of the inland sea comprised of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Strait of Georgia and Puget Sound.

The first 64-car ferry is slated to start serving the Port Townsend to Keystone route in the summer of 2010. It will be named the Chetzemoka, in honor of the chief of the Klallam chief in the 19th Century.

Port Townsend leaders submitted the name Chetzemoka the Transportation Commission, which ultimately adopted. Castellano pointed out that a policy wasn’t developed when the first new ferry was named. The Chetzemoka will solely serve the Keystone route.

The second ferry is due to be finished sometime in 2011. That ferry will operate out of Keystone during the busy summer tourist season, while serving other areas, such as the San Juan Islands, the remaining times of the year.

The commission established a number of guidelines to assess potential names for new ferries, which include:

• Names for ferries should carry statewide significance and represent our state’s image and culture.

• Specifically, names should represent such things as state symbols, tribal names, geographic locations, cities, counties, or relate to nautical heritage.

• Consideration will be given for consistency with existing ferry names. Twenty-one of the ferry system’s 23 ferries have names reflecting the state’s tribal heritage.

• Names should be familiar, easy to pronounce and be non-offensive.

• Names with commercial overtones or commemorating people should be avoided, but considered with careful review. People considered must have been dead for at least 20 years and played a significant role in the region or state.

Castallano encouraged Whidbey Islanders to submit letters to the transportation commission via email to transc@wsdot.wa.gov.

Proposals to name the new ferry are due by April 30. The Washington State Transportation Commission will make a decision in July.

The museum director said it would be fitting to name the next ferry the Squi Qui. He was a contemporary of Chetzemoka and he could imagine seeing those two crossing paths while canoeing across Admiralty Inlet.

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