‘Squaw’ removed from names of geographic features on federal lands


The Department of Interior removed the word “squaw” from the names of nearly 650 geographic features on Thursday, citing the word’s association with being a racist and sexist slur for indigenous women.

The move was made after a vote from the Board on Geographic Names, the department said in a press release.

New names and a map of the locations can be found on the U.S. Geological Survey’s website.

“I feel a deep obligation to use my platform to ensure that our public lands and waters are accessible and welcoming. That starts with removing racist and derogatory names that have graced federal locations for far too long,” said Secretary Deb Haaland in the release.

Examples include Squaw Mountain in Arizona being renamed Beacon Peak; Squaw Flat in Idaho being renamed Pia Tevope Seepaithe and Squaw Lake in New York being renamed Muskrat Lake.

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, squaw is an offensive term for an American Indian woman from North America.

Ms. Haaland, the first Native American to serve as a cabinet secretary, issued an order last November that declared squaw as a derogatory word.

The order also established a Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force, which took in more than 1,000 public recommendations for new names and several hundred from almost 70 tribal governments.

The department said it is open to receiving additional recommendations about other derogatory terms and their usage on federal lands.


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