Nearly 70 Arizona sites renamed for containing Native American slur
PHOENIX - Nearly 70 geographical areas in Arizona were renamed by federal officials this week to replace a word considered to be derogatory toward Native American women.
The U.S. government has quit using the term "squaw" by renaming hundreds of peaks, lakes, streams and other geographical features on federal lands across the western United States and elsewhere.
In Arizona, more than 67 different spots in the state have been renamed.
This isn't the first time this kind of change has happened. Squaw Peak was renamed Piestewa Peak in 2008.
Nearby streets were also later given new names in honor of Arizona soldier Lori Piestewa, the first female Native American to die in combat.
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"The Department of the Interior today announced the Board on Geographic Names (BGN) has voted on the final replacement names for nearly 650 geographic features featuring the word sq___," read a statement from the U.S. Dept. of the Interior. "The final vote completes the last step in the historic efforts to remove a term from federal use that has historically been used as an offensive ethnic, racial and sexist slur, particularly for Indigenous women."
The changes announced Thursday capped an almost yearlong process that began after Deb Haaland, the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency, took office in 2021. Haaland is from Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico.
The Native American Rights Fund, a nonprofit legal organization, welcomed the changes.
"Federal lands should be welcoming spaces for all citizens," deputy director Matthew Campbell said in a statement. "It is well past time for derogatory names to be removed and tribes to be included in the conversation."
Haaland in November declared the term derogatory and ordered members of the Board on Geographic Names, the Interior Department panel that oversees uniform naming of places in the U.S., and others to come up with alternatives.
The term originated in the Algonquin language and may have once simply meant "woman." But over time, the word morphed into a misogynist and racist term to disparage Indigenous women, experts say.
Find all the geographic name changes here: https://edits.nationalmap.gov/apps/gaz-domestic/public/all-official-sq-names
The Associated Press contributed to this report.