Nooksack Place Names


Last Updated: 10 years

The names remembered and recorded for places in the original Nooksack language, Lhéchalosem, tie the modern Nooksack Indian people to their traditional lands.

Names are known for places throughout the Nooksack territory where the language was spoken, as well as in surrounding areas which were not exclusively Nooksack.

All of these place names are covered in detail in Nooksack Place Names: Geography, Culture, and Language by Allan Richardson and Brent Galloway (UBC Press, 2011). Below is a sample of a few of special interest with brief etymologies that are given in brackets.


T’elt’álaw7 – The place where the Nooksack River splits at the head of its delta. [many arms]
Tl’eqx – California Creek. [soggy all around]
Lhelhókw’ey – Wiser Lake. [many-flying-place]
Ts’íkwemish – Bertrand Creek and village site at the mouth of Bertrand Creek.
Méqsen – Village known as “Stick Peter’s place”, Matsqui Indian Reserve #4. [nose]
Sqwehálich – Village on the south bank of the Nooksack River across from Lynden on Stickney Island, Lynden Jim’s place. [go through an opening-at back]
Lhchálos – Village at the east edge of the old part of Lynden. The name is the source of the language name Lhéchalosem.
Shóqwil – Trail crossing, fishing site with drying houses, and small prairie area on Fishtrap Creek just south of the international boundary near Northwood Road. [crossing (of water)]
Kwánech – Village located at Everson. [lots-at the bottom]
Temíxwten – Nooksack village with pit houses at Sumas, WA.  [earth-device]
Semáts Xácho7 – Sumas Lake.  [level place lake]
Nuxwsá7aq – Anderson Creek and the area at the mouth of Anderson Creek.  This place name is the source of the tribal name Nooksack.  [always-bracken fern roots]
Spálhxen – Village on Johnson Island opposite the mouth of Anderson Creek.  [prairie, meadow, open land]
Yexsáy – Smith Creek and village at the mouth of Smith Creek.  [place given as a gift]
Leme7ólh – Fishing rocks on the east bank of the Nooksack River ½ mile upriver from Deming.  [kicked (away) long ago]
Nuxw7íyem – South Fork Nooksack River and village at mouth of South Fork.  [always-clear water]
Nuxwt’íqw’em – Middle Fork Nooksack River and village located at its mouth.  [always-murky water]
Chuw7álich – North Fork Nooksack River.  [the next point]
Xwkw’ól7oxwey – Kendall Creek and village at the mouth of Kendall Creek. [always-dog salmon-place]
Kwelshán – The high open slopes of Mt. Baker.  [shooting place]
Kweq’ Smánit – Mt. Baker.  [white mountain]
Shéqsan ~ Ch’ésqen – Mt. Shuksan.  [high foot ~ golden eagle]
Ts’éq – Creek and fish camp at Acme.  [fermented salmon eggs]
xwaymaltxw – Camp at mouth of Skookum Creek on South Fork.  [slaughter-house]
Yúmechiy – Canyon in the South Fork where spring Chinook salmon were caught.  [spring salmon-place]
Kwetl’kwítl’ Smánit – Twin Sisters Mountain.  [red mountain]
Xachu7ámish – Village at the upper, southeast end of Lake Whatcom.  [lake people]
Ch’ínukw’ – Toad Lake.  [thunderbird]
Xalachiséy – Squalicum Lake.  [mark on the hand place]
Chúkwenet – Chuckanut Creek and camp located at the mouth of Chuckanut Creek.  [beach or tide goes way out]
Xwótqwem – Whatcom Creek and camp at mouth of Whatcom Creek.  [sound of water splashing or dripping fast and hard]
Nuxwkw’ól7exwem – Squalicum Creek.  [always-dog salmon-place to get]
Tl’aqatínus – Prairie and bluff at Fort Bellingham.  [long bluff]
Nuxws7áxwom – Cherry Point.  [place to always get butter clams]
Shkw’em – Camp location on Birch Bay at mouth of Terrell Creek, and Terrell Creek.  [swim]