Biden Dept. of Interior renames 650 geographic features

The Biden administration’s Interior Department on Thursday announced replacement names for nearly 650 geographic features that bore names deemed “racist and derogatory.”

The Geographic Names Board has voted on final names to replace the names of landmarks on federal lands that feature the term “squaw,” the department said in a news release.

The removal of the term, which the department says has “historically been used as an offensive ethnic, racial and gender slur, particularly to Indigenous women,” is part of an ongoing effort to review and replace derogatory names in the federal use.

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

Haaland thanked the organizations involved in the name change process and said the effort “sets the course for an inclusive America.”

The Home Office released the names of 650 geographical features previously deemed offensive.
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Deb Haaland
Home Secretary Deb Haaland said she wants to make sure the country’s public lands are “accessible and welcoming”.

The list of new names can be found on the U.S. Geological Survey websiteas well as a map of the locations.

Some renowned federal lands included: Squaw Gulch, a valley in Placer County, California, in Mani’pa Gulch; Squaw Lake in Hinsdale County, Colorado to Grizzly Lake; and Squaw Mountain, a peak in Utah County, Utah to Kyhv Peak.

That of the department Working Group on Derogatory Geographical Names, which was created last year as part of the name change effort, has received more than 1,000 name change recommendations, with nearly 70 tribal governments participating in a nation-to-nation consultation, which resulted to several hundred additional recommendations.

The department said that while the new names are immediately effective for federal use, the public can continue to submit name changes for all features, including those in Thursday’s announcement.

Betty K. Park