Proposal to rename Soap Lake is deferred

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- There won't be a quick decision on a strongly debated proposal to change the name of central Washington's Soap Lake to Lake Smokiam.

The Washington state Committee on Geographic Names tabled the proposal Friday at its twice-yearly meeting. A committee statement simply said the decision was deferred.

The proposal has generated strong opposition from residents of the town of Soap Lake.

Soap Lake resident Bonnie Holt-Morehouse and Moses Lake historian Robert Ruby proposed the change as a way to foster positive relations with the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and educate people about the importance of the mineral-laden water.

Under the proposal, the City of Soap Lake would keep its current title.

There's been some dispute about whether "Smokiam" means "healing waters," as proponents suggested. In April, Colville tribal language instructor Ernie Brooks said it could refer to sunflowers but would be more related to the alkali content of the lake.