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Fort George Wright Drive signs removed, replaced with new name, Whistalks Way

The street is now named after a female warrior of the Spokane Tribe who fought against Col. George Wright.
Credit: City of Spokane

SPOKANE, Wash. — Fort George Wright Drive is officially no more. The City of Spokane is in the process removing the signage and replacing them with the new street name, Whistalks Way.

In December, Spokane City Council approved the name change. The street is now named after a female warrior of the Spokane Tribe who fought against Col. George Wright. She was the wife of Qualchan, a Yakama sub-chief who was killed by Wright.

A street and an Army post in Spokane are named after Wright, who led a campaign of genocide against the Native peoples of Spokane.

Spokane Public Works Spokesperson Marlene Feist said Tuesday that crews started removing the For George Wright Drive signs last week. It’s unclear if all the signs have been replaced.  

According to the Spokane Historical Society, Wright was sent on “merciless punitive expedition” throughout Eastern Washington and into North Idaho in 1858. He fought native forces at the Battle of Four Lakes near present-day Medical Lake and killed over 600 captured horses near the Idaho border. This led to the destruction of the tribe’s economy, causing food shortages and starvation, the historical society says.

Wright burned native crops and food stores. He also hanged any Native American he suspected of having fought against him following a mock “trial.” Wright had no authority to conduct a trial under military law, according to the historical society.

Some of Wright’s enemies were invited to a camp on Latah Creek to make peace. Instead, Wright arrested and executed at least 16 natives, according to the historical society. This area is known as Hangman’s Creek.

Also in December, Spokane County announced the renaming of Hangman Valley Golf Course to Latah Creek Golf Course.

The decision came after "several months of meetings and deliberation between the Golf Advisory Committee where they followed a very intentional process to consider historical and/or cultural significance of a property," according to county spokesperson Jared Webley.

In August, several groups rallied in another attempt to get the name of West Fort George Wright Drive changed. According to the historical society, there was an unsuccessful effort to re-name the street to a more culturally sensitive Native American name.

This is a trending topic across the United States as many southern states have started to remove monuments honoring Confederate Civil War leaders and Christopher Columbus.