The Alaska State Capitol in April 2018. (Juneau Empire File)

The Alaska State Capitol in April 2018. (Juneau Empire File)

House resolution supports new name for Saginaw Bay

Current name commemorates warship that shelled Kake

The Alaska House of Representatives passed House Resolution 11, 37-0, expressing the House’s support of renaming Saginaw Bay in Kake to its Tlingit name, Skanáx̱ Bay.

The bay is adjacent to the Southeast Alaska village and is named for the USS Saginaw, the warship that infamously shelled Kake in 1869. That incident destroyed three civilian villages and three smaller campsites. The destruction led to an unknown amount of deaths by starvation and exposure the following winter.

The Organized Village of Kake and Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, D-Sitka, on May 9 formally proposed renaming Saginaw Bay to Skanáx̱ Bay to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, the federal entity vested with the authority to make and change place names.

“The bay’s current name is an affront to the local Tlingit community,” Kreiss-Tompkins wrote in his sponsor statement, “and a source of discomfort for many residents of the Kake.”

Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, D-Sitka, catches up on his hometown news as the House works on last minute bills on Wednesday, May 15, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, D-Sitka, catches up on his hometown news as the House works on last minute bills on Wednesday, May 15, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

HR 11 affirms the name change and will be forwarded to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names to supplement the name change application.

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