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. — U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland
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. — U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland
Interior Secretary Haaland moves to rid U.S. of racially derogatory place names
  • U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced that the federal agency will establish a process to review and replace racially derogatory terms used in place names.
  • Haaland, the nation’s first Native American Cabinet secretary, said a newly created federal advisory committee will review and recommend changes to derogatory geographic and federal land names.
  • She also declared the term “squaw,” a pejorative for Indigenous women, to be derogatory and ordered the federal board tasked with naming geographic places to develop procedures that would remove the term from federal usage.
The Advisory Committee on Reconciliation in Place Names, through a new Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force, will consult with the public and tribal representatives on potential place name changes.

Haaland also declared the term “squaw,” a pejorative for Indigenous women, to be derogatory, the press release said. She ordered the Board on Geographic Names, the federal body tasked with naming geographic places, to develop procedures that would remove the term from federal usage.

“Squaw” currently appears in the names of more than 650 federal land units, according to Board on Geographic Names data.

“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,” Haaland said in the press release.

“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.


Haaland noted that it typically takes years for the Board of Geographic Names to replace place names as their review process is on a case-by-case basis. There are hundreds of name changes pending before the board, according to the press release.

The new federal advisory committee aims to make this process more efficient by facilitating a “proactive and systematic development and review” of name change proposals, the press release said.

Some advocates welcomed Haaland’s announcement, saying that the move by the federal government is long overdue.

“Names that still use derogatory terms are an embarrassing legacy of this country’s colonialist and racist past,” said John Echohawk, executive director of the Native American Rights Fund, in a statement. “It is well-past time for us, as a nation, to move forward, beyond these derogatory terms, and show Native people — and all people — equal respect.”

“We applaud [Haaland] for taking action to make our federal government and public lands more inclusive and respectful of Native peoples,” Echohawk said.

Paul Spitler, senior legislative policy manager of nonprofit land conservation organization The Wilderness Society, also applauded the announcement.

“The names of our mountains and rivers should honor and reflect our nation’s great diversity, and advance dignity for all people,” Spitler said in a statement Friday. “We support the Biden administration’s actions to eliminate the thousands of racist and offensive place names on public lands and to work with diverse populations in local communities to create more equitable and inclusive outdoor spaces for all people.”
Read the full article: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/11/19/interior-secretary-haaland-moves-to-rid-us-of-racially-derogatory-place-names-.html