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Interior Department Renames 5 ‘Racist’ US Sites

  Five U.S sites have been renamed after a year-long process to remove the “racially insensitive” word  “squaw” from geographic names across...

 Five U.S sites have been renamed after a year-long process to remove the “racially insensitive” word  “squaw” from geographic names across the country, the Department of the Interior announced Thursday.

“Words matter, particularly in our work to ensure our nation’s public lands and waters are accessible and welcoming to people of all backgrounds,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland stated, according to the Associated Press.

Haaland, the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency, declared the word “squaw” derogatory when she took office in 2021. At that time she ordered the Board on Geographic Names to begin procedures to remove the term from federal use, a press release from the Department of Interior read.

“Racist terms have no place in our vernacular or on our federal lands. Our nation’s lands and waters should be places to celebrate the outdoors and our shared cultural heritage – not to perpetuate the legacies of oppression. Today’s actions will accelerate an important process to reconcile derogatory place names and mark a significant step in honoring the ancestors who have stewarded our lands since time immemorial,” she said at the time.

The Interior Department announced its proposal to change 650 sites that contained the word in September and conducted a review of another seven locations. Five of those locations, located in California, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas were changed with Thursday’s announcement, the AP reported.

Some members of one of the small communities, which has been newly dubbed Homesteaders Gap in North Dakota, are pleased with the “overdue” change. Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation Tribal Chairman Mark Fox told The Bismarck Tribune that the previous name “Squaw Gap” elicited “serious and strong emotions and resistance to that term.”

Others disagreed, citing opposition to what they deemed as federal government interference in their small community, the AP reported.

Partridgeberry and Lynn Creek are the new names for the Tennessee and Texas sites respectively, the outlet stated. The two newly named sites in California are Central Valley communities newly dubbed Loybas Hill, which translates to “Young Lady,” and Yokuts Valley.

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