Property owners petition to rename a lake that has a racist name in Whitefish

Posted at 12:25 PM, Sep 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 14:25:02-04

A petition has been submitted by the City of Whitefish on behalf of 12 lakefront property owners to change the name of a lake deemed extremely offensive.

The petition asks the name of “Lost Coon Lake” to be changed to “Lost Loon Lake.” The 61-acre lake is located partially within city limits south of the City of Whitefish.

Court documents state the name has racist connotations and goes against the city’s code of honoring and welcoming the diversity of all citizens and visitors. “The requested name change would honor the requests of citizens and visitors and be in harmony with the city’s expressed values of promoting diversity, tolerance, and inclusiveness,” the city wrote in the submitted petition.

The word "coon" was adopted several decades ago after the initial name - "Ni**er Lake" - was found to be offensive and derogatory. Coon as used in this case was a derogatory slur often used to describe Black people, and not a reference to a raccoon.

The petition states: " partial reliance upon 'Stump Town to Ski Town,' a book about the history of Whitefish, Lost Coon Lake was originally known as "Nigger Lake." The name allegedly began to become controversial in the mid-20th century when Washington bureaus began to refuse ice harvest contracts with that name on them. Again, according to Wikipedia, the lake was renamed Lost Coon Lake as a compromise in the 1980s when upscale developments began being targeted for the area."

Court documents show that a hearing date for public comment on the petition has not yet scheduled.

Julie Kadrmas shared with MTN News this image of a government publication from 1965 showing the original name of the lake: