Why They Call It – KOOSKIA


( This is one in  a series of sketches which will appear in the Sunday Tribune on the origin of names of towns of the Lewiston region.  Much significance often attaches to the names of cities and towns, and in many instances much greater interest would be enlisted if it were known why the towns were given their name)


If the literal translation of the Nez Perce word were followed, Kooskia, nestled in the depths of the Clearwater river canyon where that stream branches into the Lochsa and Southfork, might be called “Water See” by the whites,.  But as the translation isn’t followed, the town goes by its euphonious Indian name.


The Nez Perce word “koos” means “water” and “kia” means “see” which is the Indian equivalent for the white man’s clear-water, there being no word for “clear” in the Indian dialect.  Hence the Indian name for the Clearwater river, Koos-koos-kia, has been shortened to Kooskia for the town bearing its title.  Some authorities spell it Koos-koos-ki-ki and Lewis and Clark, when they named the stream on Sept. 14, 1805, called it the Koos-koos-ke.


Like many other villages in the Clearwater canyon, Kooskia’s existence as a town dates from the construction of the railroad line up the river to Stites, in 1899.  Kooskia was first known as Stuart, so named for James Stuart,  Nez Perce Indian who was a surveyor and made the first plat of the village.


When the town was incorporated in the fall of 1901, however, it was called Kooskia, with Stuart, A.J. Williams, C. B. Patterson, R.R. Woods and Dr. A.F. Wohlenberg as the first board of trustees.


Headquarters of the Selway national forest are maintained at Kooskia and it is a trading center for the surrounding forest and agricultural areas.  Kooskia had a population of 111 in 1930.



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