ARIZONA NEWS

US renames sites in Arizona, other states with Native American slur

Sep 9, 2022, 8:00 PM

(KTAR News Photo)...

(KTAR News Photo)

(KTAR News Photo)

PHOENIX – Nearly 70 geographical features in Arizona were renamed Thursday by federal officials to replace a word considered derogatory toward Native American women.

The Interior Department completed a yearlong process of changing out the names of nearly 650 mountain peaks, lakes, streams, springs and other components of the federal landscape that contained the word “squaw.”

Arizona ranked third on the list with 67, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

In Maricopa County, five names changed, including Little Squaw Creek to Odzilaayé Creek (also partially in Yavapai County) and Squaw Flat to Cooper Camp Flat.

Only California, with 85, and Idaho with 72 were higher than Arizona.

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

Haaland, born in Winslow but raised in New Mexico, is the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency. She took office in March 2021 and in November declared the term derogatory.

She 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.

In 2008, the board agreed to Arizona’s alternative for the word when the state renamed Piestewa Peak in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve to honor Lori Ann Piestewa.

The Native American solider died in an ambush in Iraq in 2003.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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US renames sites in Arizona, other states with Native American slur