Pronunciation Guide to Sammamish, Issaquah, Humptulips and other Northwest Native names for local towns. Our processors here in the Northwest were members of various native tribes. Many of the names for areas have been adapted by the settlers and remain as the names of local towns and rivers. I’m confident that the pronunciations have changed and suffered over the years. If someone who speaks the original languages heard our revisions they might cringe.
I have a treat for you if you read this all the way to the end, with a clue somewhere in the middle. Can you find the clue?
Many people have heard of Chief Seattle, of the Duwamish tribe who were the original inhabitants around eastern Puget Sound. Our main city is named for him. My home, Sammamish was named for a local river and a group of people originally part of the larger Salish coast tribes stretching from the NW US up to BC and Southern Alaska.
I thought that for people relocating to the area, as my wife did 30 years ago, a pronunciation guide might be helpful. Please understand that these explanations are my own, the way I hear the words said in common conversations. This is not an exhaustive list and is in no particular order.
Sammamish Sam-mam-ish A lake and a town
Issaquah Iz-a-qwa A local town and a creek
Snoqualmie Snow-Kwal-mee A local Town and river
Duwamish Do-wam-ish A local river and the name of the original tribe
Humptulips Hump-tulips A town toward the coast and a river
Snohomish Snow-home-ish A local town and a river
Tukwila Tuck-Will-A A local town, once eaten by Godzilla *
Mukilteo Muck-ill-Tea-o A local town on Puget Sound
Skagit Ska-jit A County and a river
Puyallup Pew-al-up A local Town famous for Tulips and a river
Tulalip Too-lai-lip A local reservation, town and resort casino
Chehalis Sha-hey-liss A town and a river
Hoquiam Hoke-wee-um A town and a river
Sequim Skwim A town on the strait of Juan de Fuca
Sekiu See-Q A town on the Strait of Juan de Fuca
Ilwaco ill-Wak-0 A town on the Pacific Coast
Semiahmoo Semi-Ah-moo An unincorporated community & a resort near Canada
Steilacoom Still-a-coom A town and former fort
Tenino Ten-i-no A local Town
Wenatchee When-at-chee A town on the east side of the Cascades
Yakima Yack-e-ma A town & river on the east side of the Cascades
*Now here's a little song from the past with many of the towns named above, and many others.