Interior Department votes to rename geographic places in Idaho that included ethnic slur for Indigenous women
In this file photo, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland speaks during a visit to Grand Junction on July 23, 2021. Listening, from left, are Sen. Michael Bennet, Reps. Lauren Boebert and Joe Neguse, Gov. Jared Polis and Sen. John Hickenlooper. (Sharon Sullivan for Colorado Newsline)
The U.S. Department of Interior’s Board on Geographic Names has voted to approve replacement names for 650 places across the West, including Idaho, that included the slur “sq—.”
The board voted Thursday to approve the replacement names, including 71 places in Idaho, as part of an effort to remove the term from federal use, according to a press release issued by the U.S. Department of Interior. Department officials said the term is used as an offensive ethnic, racist and sexist slur for Indigenous women.
“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,” Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland said in a written statement. “I am grateful to the members of the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force and the Board on Geographic Names for their efforts to prioritize this important work. Together, we are showing why representation matters and charting a path for an inclusive America.”
The vote came after the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force spent months reviewing public comment and recommendations from 70 tribal governments that participated in the process, U.S. Department of Interior officials said. Overall, the task force received more than 1,000 recommendations for name changes, including several different recommendations for some of the same places or features.
The new names are in place effective immediately for federal use, officials said.
In Idaho, the changes included renaming 14 different streams named “Sq— Creek” and giving them new names that include Priest Stream, Chief Eagle Eye Creek, Pia Soko Naokwaide, Yeva Agai Naokwaide and Newe Waippe Naokwaide.
Other examples include replacing the name “Sq— Mountain” for two different mountains, which are now called Willow Spring Mountain and Spring Valley Mountain. Four other mountains named “Sq— Peak” were also renamed Santa Rita Peak, Wheatfield Mountain, Sierra Ancha Peak, and Porcupine Mountain.
The complete list of places with replacement names is available on the U.S. Geographic Survey website.