Serving Franklin County, WA

Learn history; don't cancel it

Last week, Fairchild Air Force announced it was erasing Col. George Wright because the history surrounding him is considered by some as divisive.

In place of his name being associated with a housing area and street, the military opted for “Lilac Village” and “Willow Loop,” respectively.

The move comes two years after Spokane canceled the highly decorated Army leader, as well – Fort George Wright Drive was renamed to Whistalks Way, in recognition of the wife of Spokane tribal warrior Qualchan. Qualchan was hanged by Col. Wright in 1858 because the warrior was killing white settlers.

This isn’t the first instance of the modern cancel culture trying to rewrite history by erasing names and events of the past. And it won’t be the last.

The names of our nation’s Founding Fathers, Civil War leaders and others are being systematically erased, not because they weren’t important, but because someone doesn’t want to acknowledge that our history has led to where we are and who we are today. Even George Washington and Abraham Lincoln have come under attack by a revisionist cancel.

You can see it locally, too.

Hangman Creek was named in reference to the stream by which Palouse Indians were hanged by the U.S. Army during the Indian wars of the 1850s. Revisionists have renamed it “Latah Creek,” at least in the small valley between Marshall and Spokane. Latah is a derivative of an American Indian word meaning “fish.”

And last year, the cancel culture jumped on the ban Marcus Whitman bandwagon.

Whitman is arguably one of the most prominent figure in all Pacific Northwest history, having guided wagon trains on the Oregon trail, established a mission, provided education and health care and being the father to the first non-Indian child born in the Oregon territory.

A group of Western Washingtonians with little knowledge of the region’s history convinced the Democrat-controlled Legislature to remove his statue from the state Capitol building and the national statuary in Washington, D.C. His cancelation has led to the promotion of Billy Frank Jr., a tribal activist instrumental in salmon protection policies west of the Cascades.

Nothing against Billy Frank Jr. – he was an exceptional man, when it comes to fisheries issues.

In addition to the statues commemorating Whitman, other historical markers across the state are now in the crosshairs of revisionists.

The Tacoma-based Washington State Historical Society has launched a “statewide Monuments and Markers Project.”

On line, the group is touting its new initiative to review monuments for “historical accuracy” and then consult with tribes to “facilitate dialogue around any possible changes needed…” That’s cancel culture jargon for “we don’t like history, so let’s rewrite it.”

Some of the targeted monuments – mostly small pyramids in our area – are:

The Battle of the Spokane Plains marker on U.S. Highway 2 near Fairchild Air Force Base.

The Military Wagon Road – sometimes called the Mullan Road – pyramids on Cheney Spangle Road just outside Cheney; at the intersection of West Martin, West Mead and South Mullinix roads near Williams Lake; at the intersection of Hardy and Lamont roads in Lamont; on state Highway 261 near Lyons Ferry; and others in the Spokane, Spokane Valley and Walla Walla areas.

The Camp Washington marker on West Coulee Hite Road near North Wood Road, north of Deep Creek.

And there are many, many more.

The not-for-profit society participated in the erection of many of the monuments, often nearly 100 years ago, but doesn’t necessarily own them. For example, the society webpage notes the Mullan Road pyramid in Lamont was erected by the Lamont Community under supervision of Ladies Aid.

Still, the organization is planning “consultation with relevant tribes…” to determine “changes needed…”

Funny how members of the organization today think they know more than the people who erected the pyramids nearly a century ago. The decision-makers involved in erecting the monuments likely had close family members who lived that history. Many may themselves have lived it.

Enough with the revisionism.

Events of the past, both good and bad, make us who we are today. They shaped our society then, and are still shaping it today.

History should not be rewritten in the name of “inclusivity” or equity. It should not be rewritten just to appease a very loud vocal few who don’t like the truth.

People, places and events of the path provide us with the roadmap to where and who we are today. It’s time to stop the erasure of that map, learn from the past and celebrate our culture, heritage and history.

Eastern Washington has a robust history; we a lot here to be proud of.

– Roger Harnack is the owner and publisher of Free Press Publishing. Email him at [email protected].

Author Bio

Roger Harnack, Publisher

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Roger Harnack is the co-owner/publisher of Free Press Publishing. Having grown up Benton City, Roger is an award-winning journalist, photographer, editor and publisher. He's one of only two editorial/commentary writers from Washington state to ever receive the international Golden Quill. Roger is dedicated to the preservation of local media, and the voice it retains for Eastern Washington.


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