Neighborhood changes its name
Last updated 10/3/2023 at 10:11am
A substantial contingent of residents turned out on a drippy Friday afternoon, September 29, to mark the renaming of their neighborhood.
The subdivision off of Wilt Road north of Sisters formerly known as Squaw Creek Canyon Estates is now officially Whychus Canyon Estates. The neighbors unveiled an updated and restored neighborhood sign in an informal observance on Friday.
The change lines the neighborhood up with the name of the canyon and creek it overlooks. Squaw Creek was renamed Whychus Creek in 2006, as the state of Oregon began to eliminate geographical names featuring the word "squaw," which was deemed offensive by some Native American people. Whether the Algonkian-language term for a young woman is or should be universally considered offensive is debated.
In any case, the renaming of the creek tapped a historical source. "Whychus" - meaning "the place we cross the water" in the Sahaptin language - was the name by which the creek was labeled in railroad survey maps dating back to the 19th Century.
"The change made complete sense to many of us," said Karen Kane, a resident who was one of the leaders of the effort to rename the neighborhood. "We live near Whychus Creek and parts of the neighborhood overlook the Whychus Canyon Preserve, which is owned by the Deschutes Land Trust."
A survey of property owners indicated that some opposed the name change, and Deschutes County directed the residents - who do not have a homeowners association - to conduct a vote before changing the sign, which is sited on county property. According to Kane, "The vote was conducted with the results being 135 in favor, and 51 opposed. We personally spoke with about two dozen people who chose not to vote for a variety of reasons, and about 40 property owners did not reply at all."
Property owners voluntarily funded the relettering and refurbishment of the sign.