How do you feel about being a Sequimite? How about a Sequimarian? Or a Sequimmer or Sequimian?
When I first started with the Sequim Gazette, I wrote a column that asked “What are the people of Sequim called?”
Following a bad joke about sequins and disco, the column alluded that by definition a Sequim resident is a Sequimite.
A few days after that column ran, a reader phoned me to say I was incorrect. She said a newcomer was a Sequimite and after a certain amount of time they become a Sequimarian.
But, two children later and countless stories written, I can’t recall if it was the other way around or not.
What we do know is that there are some definites — Seattle people are Seattleites and Portland residents are Portlanders. But not much credence goes into naming the people of smaller cities like Sequim.
Do you refer to your grandmother in Gig Harbor as a Gig Harborian or Uncle Stu in Sammamish as a Sammamishian?
Doug McInnes, who publishes “The Ditchwalker” for Sequim Old-Timers and Sequim Schools Alumni, wrote a tongue in cheek column on the subject of who we are in November 2005.
“Having to say you are ‘from Sequim’ hasn’t got any real class or rhythm to it, like saying you are Parisian or Laplander,” he wrote.
McInnes considered several options including the popular Sequimite which he said “conjured up visions of small burrowing creatures that eat your house.”
He discards a few other choices, too.
Sequimlandian: too long.
Sequestiran: too horse-related.
Sequimmer: “too much like swimmer and the town isn’t even on the water.”
McInnes settled on Sequimese but today says Sequimite is the best.
Other Sequim pioneers seem to agree or at least that the phrase is the most recognizable.
Bud Knapp said at first he thought Sequimite sounds right but has heard otherwise.
“I’ve heard people from Port Townsend and Chimacum call us Sequimmers, but I really don’t know,” he said.
Judy Stipe, a representative for the Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley, said
Sequim’s old-timers weren’t much for nicknames but of the few names she’s heard range from Sequimmers to Sequimolites.
“Sequimites sounds like a bug,” she said.
Shelli Robb-Kahler, executive director for the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce, said Sequimite is what she’s always heard.
“And I’ve was born and raised here,” she said.
Some newer residents like Renne Brock-Richmond, who produces the First Friday Art Walk and serves as an instructor at Peninsula College, find Sequim to be an exclusive name at times.
She grew up coming to Sequim for vacations and knew how to pronounce it but she finds that’s not always the case especially when speaking with people from across the globe.
“People struggle with being able to pronounce Sequim,” she said. “But they are familiar with how to say swim so I use Sequimmers. That way they have an attachment. Plus I’m a big fan of double consonants.”
After analyzing countless denonyms, a term for residents of an area, it seems a number of suffixes would fit Sequim.
Adding an “ian” would follow along with fellow Washingtonians. McInnes’ Sequimese could work but so could Sequimi and Sequimonian.
Another local, Tom Pitre, refers to other Sequim residents and himself as the previously mentioned Sequimarian.
“It has a more regal feel to it than Sequimite,” he said.
“Sequimite is too close to termites, while Sequimarians are residents of Sequim bobway, “a kingdom unto itself,” a term I used on a T-shirt and I wear, proudly.”
Pitre said he associates the suffix “ite” with phrases like the Israelites and stalactites, and other minerals and old fossils, whereas “arian” means to him is a person that has a connection with Sequim.
Patty McManus Huber, co-owner of Nash’s Organic Produce, isn’t so sure about Sequimarian.
“It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie,” she joked.
But when asked to choose, she said Sequimite is the first name that popped into her head.
“I would sure be open to something else,” she said.
Looking online and through countless newspapers, Sequimite appears to be the norm with the phrase appearing sporadically in headlines and stories for at least 10 years.
However, the phrase only seems local to Sequim and the North Olympic Peninsula.
Grammatical rules for the suffix “ite” would suggest Sequimite could work along with several other options. There’s no known decree or slogan or song and some officials shrug when asked what we’re called.
Finding consensus doesn’t seem to be an option on a name with so many options but if we aren’t quite sold on Sequimite like McManus-Huber suggested, maybe we should be open to another idea.
We could default to a slogan like “City of Sunshine,” or “Land of Lavender.”
But simply being from Sequim does seem to matter to many of its residents young and mature.
Can you find another small city with so many names for itself?