Proposal to nix derogatory term targets hundreds of US sites

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland
Posted at 4:12 PM, Feb 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-22 19:12:18-05

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal officials have come up with a list of potential replacement names for hundreds of geographic features in three dozen states that include the word “squaw.”

U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland in November formally declared the term derogatory and initiated a process to remove the term from use by the federal government and to replace other existing derogatory place names.

Haaland said in a statement that words matter, particularly as the agency works to make the nation’s public lands and waters accessible and welcoming to people of all backgrounds.

Experts have said the word “squaw,” derived from the Algonquin language, may have once simply meant “woman,” but over time it morphed into a term used to disparage Indigenous women.

The list was announced Tuesday and includes sites in New Mexico, Arizona, California and many other states. The agency will host virtual meetings to consult with tribes in March.

A task force will prioritize the replacement names and make recommendations to the Board on Geographic Names before it meets later this year.