1903: What was the original Chinook motto of the Kittitas County auditor?

This is a new discovery for me — should be possible to track down the answer.

What was the original, Chinuk Wawa, motto of the auditor’s office in Washington State’s Kittitas County? (Non-Washingtonians, that’s pronounced [kʰίtʰιtʰæs].)

It’s a comparatively young county, having been split from northern Yakima County late in 1883, towards the end of territorial times. (Non-Washingtonians, that’s pronounced [yǽkʰəma].)

So the records won’t be buried real deep. Let’s dig.

historical sketch


historical sketch 2

historical sketch 3



Circumstances Which Led Up to
Organization of Kittitas

W. H. Peterson, Once County Supt. and Auditor
Gives Interesting and Reliable Data
— Good Reading for All.


The board instructed the auditor to
secure the required seals for the county
officers. I wrote to a Portland seal
firm that I wanted a seal for the audit-
or designed as to tipify [sic] the three lead-
ing industries of the county — Stock
raising, agriculture and mining. They
prepared and sent the impress of sev-
eral designs, one of which, with a few
changes which I suggested, was satis-
factory. Not wishing to follow the
long established precedent of hunting
for a Latin motto, I told Howard C.
Walters, then a resident of of [sic] Ellens-
burg, that I wanted to use one from
the Chinook language, but did not un-
derstand it well enough to make the
proper selection. He took the matter
under advisement and suggested “Close
Illahee,” which 1 had placed in the
seal. Mr. Walters and I prepared a
design for the probate seal of the
county. In this we perpetrated a joke
on Walter A. Hull, now deceased, who
was the first probate judge of the
countv. On the seal we had made for
his office we had the head of a bull
with glaring eyes and conspicuous horns.
In consideralion of his name, and the
fact that he was extensively engaged
in stock raising, we voted the design a
happy hit. A few days after I had re-
ceived the seal, Walters brought Mr.
Hull in to see it. Stamping the seal
on a piece of paper, I handed it to him.
After examining it closely for a short
time he exclaimed, in the quick jerking
words characteristic of him: “Bedad
boys that’s pretty good. How did you
come to think of it?”

— from the Ellensburg (WA) Dawn of May 21, 1903, page 1, column 2

“Close Illahee” = ɬúsh ílihi = ‘good land(s); meadow(s), prairie(s); farm(s)’.

It would be great to find an image of that stamp!

qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?