Federal board approves new name for Saginaw Bay, here’s what it is

Federal board approves new name for Saginaw Bay, here’s what it is

Change was requested by Organized Village of Kake

A federal board has approved changing the name of a Southeast Alaska bay following a petition from tribal leaders over its association with military aggression, officials said.

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names approved changing the name of Saginaw Bay to Skanax Bay last week, CoastAlaska reported.

The Alaska House of Representatives and Alaska Historical Commission endorsed the name change earlier this year. The change was requested by the Organized Village of Kake, the area’s tribal government.

“As a clan we never relinquished to the rights to this bay,” Dawn Jackson, executive director of the Organized Village of Kake, told a House committee considering a name change resolution in May.

“It’s been a contentious history of how Saginaw (Bay) got named,” Jackson said. “And in 2018, our tribe passed a resolution unanimously to move forward, introducing and putting back on the land, our traditional name of Skanax.”

[House resolution supports new name for Saginaw Bay]

Three Tlingit villages east of Sitka destroyed by the U.S.S. Saginaw in 1869 were deserted in advance of the gunboat’s bombardment in the bay located off Kuiu Island. Soldiers landed and burned winter food stores and provisions, leading to starvation, according to tribal oral accounts.

An unexploded artillery shell from the bombardment weighing 60 pounds was defused in 2011 after being discovered in a house where it was kept as an heirloom.

The period known as the Kake War is linked to other Southeast Alaska names including Murder Cove, Surprise Harbor and Retaliation Point, officials said.

The name Saginaw “is an affront to the local Tlingit community and a source of discomfort for many residents of the Kake,” said Democratic state Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tompkins, who sponsored the resolution.


• This is an Associated Press report.


More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of May 18

Here’s what to expect this week.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, May 23, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, May 22, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Campaign buttons urging Alaskans to repeal ranked choice voting in Alaska sit on a picnic table at the home of Phil Izon, a backer of the initiative, in Wasilla, Alaska, on Tuesday, May 14. Arguments are scheduled May 28 in a lawsuit challenging the state Division of Election’s decision to certify the initiative for placement on the ballot this year. (Mark Thiessen / AP)
Ranked-choice voting has challenged the status quo. Its popularity will be tested in November

Arguments scheduled Tuesday in Alaska lawsuit involving ballot initiative repealing RCV.

A sperm whale is seen in an undated photo published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (NOAA photo)
Alaska fisherman pleads guilty to federal charges after ordering crew to shoot whale

A Southeast Alaska troll fisherman has agreed to plead guilty to a… Continue reading

Juneau high school seniors Edward Hu of Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé (left), Elizabeth Djajalie of Thunder Mountain High School (center) and Kenyon Jordan of Yaaḵoosgé Daakahídi Alternative High School. (Photos of Hu and Jordan by Juneau Empire staff, photo of Djajalie by Victor Djajalie)
Senior Spotlight 2024: Three top students take very different paths to graduation stage

Ceremonies for Juneau’s three high schools take place Sunday.

The entrance road to Bartlett Regional Hospital. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file photo)
Bartlett Regional Hospital looking at eliminating or trimming six ‘non-core’ programs to stabilize finances

Rainforest Recovery Center, autism therapy, crisis stabilization, hospice among programs targeted.

A king salmon. (Ryan Hagerty/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Biden administration advances bid to list Gulf of Alaska king salmon as endangered or threatened

Experts say request could restrict activity affecting river habitats such as road, home construction

Mayor Beth Weldon (left), Deputy Mayor Michelle Bonnet Hale and Juneau Assembly member Paul Kelly discussion proposals for next year’s mill rate during an Assembly Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday night. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Assembly members support lower 10.04 mill rate ahead of final vote on next year’s CBJ budget

Initial proposal called for raising current rate of 10.16 mills to 10.32 mills.

Most Read