Montana Geographic Names Advisor

Geographic Name Change Request

Grizzly Creek
Missoula County, Montana

Status = Denied

Description stream, 2.1 mi long, on the Flathead Indian Reservation; heads on the SE slope of Charity Peak at 47°04’34”N, 114°07’32”W, flows E to enter Finley Creek 2.8 mi NNE of Evaro; named in association with Grizzly Mountain Road which runs alongside part of the stream
Location 47°04’47”N, 114°04’59”W
PLSS Location Secs 12,11,10&9, T15N, R20W
Proposal new name for an unnamed feature
Proponent Brian Naugle; Missoula, MT
Administrative area Flathead Indian Reservation
Previous BGN Action None
See also 40802
GNIS ID 2723431
Local Usage Charity Creek (local resident), Kitty Girl Creek (local resident)
Published None found
The names Grizzly Creek and Sim-heh Creek have both been proposed to be applied to a 2.1-mile-long unnamed perennial stream on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Missoula County. The stream heads on the southeast slope of Charity Peak and flows east into Finley Creek.

The first proposal, for Grizzly Creek, was submitted by a local resident who selected it because a portion of the stream flows alongside Grizzly Mountain Road. An area resident was contacted to determine if Grizzly Mountain Road was named after a peak. He said it was named because a grizzly bear sow and cub broke into a property along the road. He believes some locals refer to the stream as Charity Creek because of its proximity to Charity Peak, but he has no objection to it being named Grizzly Creek.

When asked to comment on the proposal for Grizzly Creek, the Federally recognized Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation (CSKT) responded that they would prefer that the stream be named Sim-heh Creek, which is an Anglicized form of Smx?e. The latter word means “grizzly bear” in the Salish language.

The Tribe writes, “A non-Indian resident of the reservation who lives along the creek, submitted an official proposal [for] ‘Grizzly Creek.’ Following consideration of this proposed name by two tribal departments responsible for cultural and geographic matters, and their recent field trip to the area with members of the Salish-Pend d’Oreille Elders Advisory Council, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) have decided upon the name Sim-heh Creek.” The CSKT added, “Whenever possible, we feel it is important to get names in our native languages restored to the landscape. This is especially important within the exterior boundaries of the Flathead Indian Reservation.”

In its role as the State Names Authority, the Montana State Library released a public notice seeking comments on the Grizzly Creek proposal. In addition, the local newspaper published an article about it. No responses in support of Grizzly Creek were received, and two local residents opposed the proposal, stating that the stream “may have been referred to as Charity Creek or Kitty Girl Creek in the past”; another message from a local resident “suggested that the stream be named Horseshoe Creek after their ranch.” The SNA asked all three individuals if they wished to submit proposals for any of those names, but none expressed any interest. The SNA also located a 1976 water rights application in which the applicant had annotated a map with the name Kitty Girl Creek for the stream. However, “the state water rights division chose to ignore this name and designated the water right source as ‘Unnamed Tributary of Finley Creek’.”

The Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation, Missoula County Commissioners and the Montana State Names Authority (SNA) all recommend approval of the name Sim-heh Creek and disapproval of Grizzly Creek. The SNA notes, “There are 8 other Grizzly Creeks in Montana, including a stream less than 20 miles away from the stream in question, which is also on the Flathead Reservation. I recommend acceptance of the Sim-heh Creek proposal because it was made by the tribal government for a stream on its reservation, because of the endorsement of the county commissioners, and because of the proximity of another stream already named Grizzly Creek.” The proponent of Grizzly Creek has asked that despite the county and tribe’s endorsement of Sim-heh Creek, that his proposal also be considered.

Comments Received by the Montana Geographic Names Advisor
Montana Geographic Names Advisor Recommendation - Oppose (Wednesday, February 8, 2012)
Domestic Names Committee Decision Date - Thursday, March 8, 2012
Domestic Names Committee Discussion - A motion was made and seconded to approve Sim-heh Creek, thus disapproving Grizzly Creek.
Vote: 10 in favor
0 against
0 abstentions

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