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Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/371

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PRESERVATION OF INDIAN NAMES 363 a living force and a sign board to all future generations point- ing to the period in the development of the race, of which all that remains of a thousand years of human life, is words and a problem for students to decipher. The above is the more necessary since there is a great need of extending our vocabulary to furnish words for the naming of towns. Of the many defects of modern man, his poverty of words for geographical names seems to me one of the most pitiable. Of the three nations which have taken the lead in colonization and therefore in the giving of names to new territory, the English and Spanish seem to have suffered most from this lack. The Spanish took their list of saints and went through it again and again, repeating the same names over and over. The English never got beyond the limit of originality, result- ing from the prefixing of the word new, to some worn out English name. The colonists themselves could not mount to even these heights of fancy. For them and for ourselves, their worthy descendants, the wildest flights of imagination do not get above the stage of finding out some name used in Massachu- setts, Connecticut or Virginia and then using it over and over again in each state and each territory. Think of 49 Albanys, 49 Salems, 49 Lebanons, 49 Brownsvilles. In fact only a strin- gent post office law prevented there being many towns in the same state with the same name. For the geographical names, where there is no regulation and the genius of the race for repeating itself can find free rein, we have a remarkable condition. In the State of Oregon alone, reading from a small scale map, there was found 3 Bald Mts., 2 Silver Lakes, 2 Antelope Creeks, 3 Badger Creeks, 2 Burnt Rivers, 4 Camp Creeks, 2 Cottonwood Creeks, 2 Cow Creeks, 2 Deep Creeks, 3 Elk Creeks, 2 John Day Rivers, 2 Long Creeks, 2 Salmon Rivers, 5 Silver Creeks, and 3 Wolf Creeks. And this with most of the branches of the rivers not named. The state is still young, surely in a few