Alaska town seeks to remove ‘Lousetown’ nickname from code

ALASKA, Sept 11: A section of a small town in western Alaska has long been known as “Lousetown,” which some residents find insulting to the Alaska Natives who live there.
But in Bethel, it’s not just an unpleasant nickname with connotations of parasitic lice. It’s on the municipal code.
Now an effort is underway to officially change the code and rename the area East Avenue, for the road traversing that part of the community of about 6,000. A final vote is set to take place Tuesday at the Bethel City Council meeting.
“I never did like it to be called Lousetown, but it sort of stuck,” said 79-year-old Bea Kristovich, who lived there in her youth.
The issue emerged when City Council member Thor Williams introduced a proposal to change the code to require visible addresses on buildings throughout the city, including Lousetown.
“It’s a very bad term,” Williams said.
“And it’s a very bad reference to a part of our community.” Williams didn’t know when or why the area got its name, which is a common reference to it even though there are no signs in town with the name Lousetown.
The word louse refers to unpleasant or contemptible people. But it’s also the plural for lice — the parasitic insect known for infesting human hair. And in the past, lice infestations were a perennial problem in western Alaska, noted state historian Jo Antonson.
Like many others, Antonson said he didn’t know when and why that section of town got that moniker. (AGENCIES)