We recently wrote about a California ski resort’s choice to change its derogatory name. Now, more sites around the US, specifically federal lands, will also get name changes as Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has ordered the department’s Board on Geographic Names to remove derogatory and racist names from federal lands and waters.
“Racist terms have no place in our vernacular or on our federal lands,” said Haaland. “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.”
Among some of the first names to be changed are those with the racist and misogynistic term “squaw.” According to the Department of the Interior, more than 650 federal sites currently have the slur against Indigenous women in their names.
The department will rely on history experts, members of the general public and representatives of Indigenous communities to make up an advisory committee to identify sites and recommend name changes. The actual changes will be made following the passage of pending Congressional legislation to rename more than 1,000 derogatory names on federal land.
While changing 1,000 names seems like a big task, the Board on Geographic Names took similar action in the 1960s to remove derogatory names related to Black and Japanese Americans.