The U.S. government has joined a ski resort and others that have quit using a racist term for a Native American woman by renaming hundreds of peaks, lakes, streams and other geographical features on federal lands in the West and elsewhere.
New names for nearly 650 places bearing the offensive word “squaw” include the mundane (Echo Peak, Texas) peculiar (No Name Island, Maine) and Indigenous terms (Pannaite Naokwaide, Wyoming) whose meaning at a glance will elude those unfamiliar with Native languages.
“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,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement.
Ten new names were unveiled for public lands in New Mexico that previously used a derogatory term for a Native woman.
The United States Geological Survey released the new names for places in New Mexico and 33 other states this week. The renaming effort is part of Haaland’s push to remove the anti-Native slur from U.S. place names.
New Mexico’s lands are in nine counties and consist of four named mountain summits, three streams, one spring, one reservoir and one valley, as follows by their new names.
- Tamayameh Kah Sta Mah, Sandoval County (formerly S**aw Peak)
- Grandview Peak, Sierra County
- Bar Mountain, Doña Ana County
- Bear Peak, Socorro County
- Meason Creek, Grant County
- Tin Creek, Catron and Sierra counties
- Janey Creek, Chaves County
- Tuurkava Paachihpi Spring, San Juan County
- Lone Butte Tank, Otero County
- Horse Camp Canyon, Sierra County
The process for changing U.S. place names can take years. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Board on Geographic Names took action to eliminate the use of derogatory terms for Black and Japanese people.