Judge Approves Change to Lake’s Racist Name

Formerly known as Lost Coon Lake, 61-acre water body will now be known as Lost Loon Lake after residents petitioned to remove racist former name

By Andy Viano
Lost Loon Lake south of Whitefish, as seen on August 19, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

The residents of Lost Loon Lake have officially shed the lake’s old racist name after a Flathead County District Court judge ruled Tuesday to grant a petition filed by more than half of the lakeshore property owners.

Judge Dan Wilson granted the Petition for Change of Watercourse Name and wrote, “the public record shall reflect the lake’s name change to Lost Loon Lake.” According to Montana statute, the secretary of state will receive the name change order in January to make Lost Loon Lake’s new name official.

Whitefish City Attorney Angela Jacobs filed the petition on behalf of 12 of 21 property owners in August, asking the court to remove the name Lost Coon Lake, which contains a racist slur for African-Americans. In the filing, Jacobs also noted that Lost Coon was a “compromise” name after “(N-word) Lake” was deemed too offensive.

In court filings this month, Whitefish Community Library Director Joey Kositzky shared a 1964 article from the Whitefish Pilot newspaper with the headline, “(N-Word) Lake name changed.” That story declares that the lake was renamed Lodgepole Pond that year, at the direction of lumber yard operator Don Jensen who said a majority of property owners were in favor of the name change at that time.

In addition to the 21 private property owners the 61-acre lake is also adjacent to Whitefish Lake Golf Club, which had been referring to Lost Loon Lake long before the court ruling. WLGC also installed a nesting platform for loons, an aquatic bird found in Northwest Montana, to create a welcoming habitat for the birds at their now-eponymous lake.

andy@flatheadbeacon.com

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