Washington is proud of its rich Native American heritage. Many counties in Washington have names derived from native languages. Cowlitz County, which was founded in 1854, is a great example.
The word Cowlitz is a rough adaptation of the Native word tawallitch, the tribal name of the Native Americans who lived there before pioneers arrived. It is also the name given to a river running through the county, as well as a massive glacier that feeds into the river. Although the official translation of this word is lost in time, it is thought to mean “capturing the medicine spirit” or “river of the shifting sands.” The Native Americans living in Cowlitz country thrived on its abundant natural resources such as salmon and other fish. They were prodigious traders who established commercial ties with many other tribes in the Pacific Northwest.
Today, Cowlitz is 1,146 square miles, making it the 25th largest county in Washington. Its population is 102,133, many of whom live in Longview, Cowlitz’s largest city, and the county seat of Kelso.