Pronunciation Guide to Sammamish, Issaquah, Humptulips and other NW Native Names

Managing Real Estate Broker with Keller Williams Bellevue 47538


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.   


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Dan Tabit       206-310-8629    425-868-SOLD(7653)

One stop Real Estate & Mortgage Services Serving Sammamish, Issaquah, Redmond, Bellevue, Mercer Island and the greater Seattle area.  


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Fred Griffin Tallahassee Real Estate
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

What a great pronunciation guide, Dan.

       And as a Godzilla Fan, I like the song!

Mar 16, 2013 09:04 AM #1
Steven Cook
No Longer Processing Mortgages. - Tacoma, WA

Dan -- neat write up -- though I doubt many will remember how to pronounce them after they leave the site.  Also, I would guess that song came from about 1980 -- since several of those sites have changed or gone away in the intervening years.

Mar 16, 2013 11:12 AM #2
Dan Tabit
Keller Williams Bellevue - Sammamish, WA

Fred, Now if you're ever out here for a visit, you can sound like a local.

Steven, I was thinking the same thing.  No more Kingdome, but I have a few scraps from it tucked away somewhere.  Had you heard that song before?

Mar 16, 2013 11:38 AM #3
Kim Gaston
RE/MAX Advantage Realty - Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs REALTOR®, CNE (719)661-6987

Wow, Dan that's quite the list. It should come in helpful for buyers relocating to your area, and aren't they lucky to have you as their local expert!

Mar 16, 2013 12:43 PM #4
MichelleCherie Carr Crowe Just Call...408-252-8900
Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years

I'm going to guess its:

Tukwila               Tuck-Will-A                         A local town, once eaten by Godzilla *

I have family in many of these areas. Thanks for an educational localism post.

Mar 16, 2013 04:52 PM #5
Debbie Laity
Cedaredge Land Company - Cedaredge, CO
Your Real Estate Resource for Delta County, CO

This is a great idea for a local blog. I could do the same. We have a lot of places named after Ute Indians.

Mar 17, 2013 03:14 AM #6
Dan Tabit
Keller Williams Bellevue - Sammamish, WA

Hi Kim, Some of the names are familiar to many, but some are tricky.  Thanks!

Hi Michelle, You found it.  I remember when this song came out and it got lots of laughs.  It's dated now, the Kingdome is gone and Dixie Lee Ray, our former Governor has been replaced many times. 

Hi Debbie, Native names are common around the country, but different areas had different languages, so the names can really vary across the country.

Mar 17, 2013 04:08 PM #7
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