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Tomee park renamed Chief Concomly Park after Native American woman's name lacked historical accuracy

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - A newly created park in Scappoose will get yet another name change. After voting to name a new park on Seely Lane 'Tomee Park,' councilors voted to change the name to Chief Concomly Park, after there were historical and factual inaccuracies about the previous name choice.Scappoose's newest park was recently named, but don't get used to it. The new city park, on Seely Lane directly adjacent to the Creekside Apartments, has already been renamed.

After initially deeming the new city site "Tomee Park," councilors voted Monday, May 21, to change the name to Chief Concomly Park.

"Chief Concomly was the Chief of the Chinook Tribe at the time that Thomas McKay settled in Scappoose," a staff analysis of the proposed name change states. "He was very well respected by both Native Americans and settlers along the lower Columbia River region which was home to the Chinook Indian tribe."

Some sources indicated Chief Concomly had a daughter, Timee, or Tomee, who later became McKay's first wife.

After reviewing a list of names suggested by the Scappoose Parks Committee, as well as the public, councilors initially said they liked the idea of honoring a Native American woman with ties to the area, and settled on Tomee Park.

A few weeks later, it was noted that the woman's name couldn't be consistently verified across multiple sources, and in some accounts, there was no mention of her at all.

Councilors went back to the drawing board, revisiting the name Chief Concomly, which was one of the top choices during previous discussions.

"Because we couldn't conclusively confirm that [Tomee] was the correct name, we wanted to be historically accurate," Mayor Scott Burge noted before voting.

The council voted unanimously on the name change.

Chief Concomly, who is frequently referred to in historical reference material as Comcomly, was a headman from the Chinook tribe noted for his trading practices with European Americans.

Alexandra Rains, assistant to the Scappoose city manager, who also works on economic development for the city, said the variant spelling of the Native chief's name was noted before council made its decision.

"Staff selected 'Concomly' based on information provided to us by Duke Smith with the Columbia County Museum Association (he provided a peer-reviewed history available in the Oregon Encyclopedia)," Rains noted earlier this week. She said an informational plaque at the park will note the variation in spelling.

Chief Concomly Park also contains a large oak tree, estimated by experts to be about 300 to 350 years old. Because of the tree's size and age, some suggested naming the park after it during initial park naming discussions.

City Councilor Joel Haugen suggested including the oak tree in a national historic registry.

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