The new 64-car ferry that will connect Port Townsend with Whidbey Island next summer may carry the name Chetzemoka, for a chief of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe on the Olympic Peninsula.
The name, pronounced Chet-za-mocha, has been submitted to the state Transportation Commission by Port Townsend officials, who say it’s a way to honor a man who preached peace.
Todd Pacific Shipyards, the boat’s builders, say if it’s not named by the end of the month they will have to put on a place-holder and paint the name later, adding to the cost.
The proposal will go to the commission Oct. 20, and Les Prince, chairman of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe and great-great grandson of Chetzemoka, will attend.
“It’s kind of neat to have something named after your great-great-grandfather,” said Prince, who lives in Sequim. “They have to name them (ferries) after someone, and I appreciate it.”
Chetzemoka was known as a peacemaker and friend to the early settlers. The first park in Port Townsend, built in 1904, is named after him.
The chief’s real name was T’chits-a-ma-hun, but apparently nobody could pronounce it, so he became Chetzemoka. The chief lived from 1808-1888. In 1857, there was a gathering of tribal leaders who proposed to drive the white settlers out of the region. The debate was whether to kill the settlers or spare their lives.
Chetzemoka argued for peace and every day he went to Sentinel Rock near Sequim and signaled to the settlers with his blanket regarding the course of the debate. On the 10th day, he stood up, threw off his blanket and shouted that the danger had passed and the threat of war was over. The settlers were so grateful they installed a bronze plaque on Sentinel Rock to commemorate the 10 days of signals.
JoAnn Bussa, a trustee of the Jefferson County Historical Society, said Chetzemoka is the only name Port Townsend has submitted for the new ferry.
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