Tuesday, April 13, 2021
April 13, 2021

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Letter: Change name of Battle Ground


The use of American Indian symbols and names in sports has largely been eliminated because of concerns that they are not complimentary to Indians. Even the Washington, D.C., NFL team is changing its derogatory brand name.

It is surprising that the name of the city of Battle Ground gets no attention. The origin of the name begins in 1855 at Fort Vancouver, where people of the Klickitat Tribe were being held prisoner in a concentration camp. Seeking their freedom, they escaped and headed north. They were chased by a troop of U.S. cavalry and armed civilian vigilantes led by Captain William Strong.

The posse caught up with the tribe in what is now called Battle Ground. Captain Strong negotiated a surrender with Umtuch, the chief of the tribe. Umtuch agreed that the tribe would surrender and peacefully return to the Fort Vancouver camp. Nevertheless, the chief was shot and killed, most likely by one of the members of the posse. The tribe buried the chief where he fell and returned to the concentration camp.

The city name celebrates a battle that never took place, the murder of a peaceful Indian chief, and denigrates the Klickitat tribe. A change in name is clearly warranted. Perhaps the city of Umtuch would be a good choice if today’s Klickitat Tribe agreed.

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