From springs and creeks to flats and hollows, from canyons to buttes to peaks, 50 Utah geographical options on federal land use the phrase “squaw,” a racial slur for Native American ladies.
But that can quickly change, after the Department of the Interior introduced on Feb. 22 that each one 660 options bearing the derogatory time period within the United States shall be renamed.
An preliminary slate of substitute concepts have been listed for every, derived via a search of close by geographic options. For instance, “Sq— Mountain” in Provo could possibly be renamed “Rock Mountain,” after close by Rock Canyon.
Until April 25, the division is amassing public suggestions and options for alternate options to the division’s listing of candidate names. You can submit feedback on www.rules.gov by coming into “DOI-2022-0001″ in the search bar and including the feature identification number included in the list.
Davina Smith, a Diné organizer and tribal coordinator with the National Parks Conservation Association, said she’s been working with the Utah Division of Indian Affairs, state and tribal leaders on the need to change such names.
“To give a historical context regarding the word ‘squaw’, it derived from the Algonquin language, it may have once simply meant ‘woman,’ but over generations as early as the 1600s, the word morphed into a misogynist and racist term to humiliate Indigenous women by non-Indigenous people,” Smith mentioned. “Since then, Indigenous women such as myself have had to endure the verbal abuse and trauma … until now.”
Rupert Steele, chairman for the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute, mentioned that the time period has lengthy been related to Native American ladies, and, typically males, as sexual objects. Using it additional dehumanizes them, he mentioned, a contributing issue to the endemic violence referred to as Missing and Murdered Indigenous People.
“We want to get that name removed from those [geographic features], to protect our identity, and not to be used as a derogatory phrase, whenever there’s disagreement with the American Indians,” Steele mentioned.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland began the method by declaring the title a derogatory time period in November and ordering the Board on Geographic Names — the federal physique tasked with naming geographic locations — to implement procedures to take away the time period from federal utilization.
As outlined in Haaland’s Secretarial Order 3404, the Department of the Interior has steered 5 candidate names to interchange the slur within the title of every characteristic.
“Words matter, particularly in our work to make our nation’s public lands and waters accessible and welcoming to people of all backgrounds,” Haaland mentioned in a press release.
Tribes can have “broad engagement” with the 13-member Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force, which is able to assessment the proposals for brand spanking new names, Haaland mentioned. Tribes just like the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute and nonprofits comparable to Ute Land Trust assist renaming the options by tapping Indigenous information and connections with tribes who every have names for these landmarks.
Braidan Weeks, government director for Ute Land Trust, mentioned Haaland being within the function as secretary makes these efforts simpler to speak about within the American consciousness as a result of she’s Native herself.
The mission of Ute Land Trust, established in 2018 by the Business Committee of the Ute Indian Tribe, is to assist heal of deep wounds left by the injustice of the elimination of Ute individuals from their lands in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona, Weeks mentioned.
The Utes as soon as lived within the Utah Valley, and one frequent clarification for the title of Sq___ Mountain facilities on a Ute lady leaping off the height. But relating to the story across the peak, and related explanations at different websites, Weeks mentioned, in these cases Native individuals themselves seemingly have no idea the historical past behind the title.
“Working kind of between western society and Native society, you kind of start learning like, if no one in the Native community really knows that story, then it’s probably not a Native story,” he mentioned. “It’s probably something that came up around or came up about Native people but wasn’t actually from Native people.”
The variety of locations that must be modified in Utah isn’t a surprise, he mentioned, and renaming effort has been ongoing for a few years. He recommends that the general public submit feedback that reinforce the necessity to work with the tribes and the names they suggest.
In southern Utah, the National Parks Conservation Association has recognized eight makes use of of the slur on public lands in or close to San Juan County and Bears Ears National Monument, and 6 makes use of in or close to Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, each in Garfield and Kane counties.
The title is used for springs, canyons, flats, lakes, valleys, a pillar, a summit, a bench and stream within the area.
The Department of the Interior has not requested the state to counsel substitute names, mentioned Dustin Jansen, director of the Utah Division of Indian Affairs. The state has recognized 56 Utah options that use the time period.
Jansen labored with Sen. Jani Iwamoto, D-Holladay, to develop a course of for renaming websites as a part of SB10, which handed within the 2021 legislative session. The invoice got here after a nationwide counting on monuments, place names and types thought of racist or offensive and after Utahns labored for a number of years towards altering the title of the mountain over Provo.
Before the brand new federal process drive was created, requested title modifications have been submitted to the Board on Geographic Names. The Division of Indian Affairs has been working to facilitate that course of, Jansen mentioned, together with creating templates for individuals and teams to ship to the board.
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