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Inside Secretary Haaland strikes to rid U.S. of racially derogatory place names

U.S. Inside Secretary Deb Haaland introduced Friday that the federal company will set up a course of to evaluate and substitute racially derogatory phrases utilized in place names. 

Haaland, the nation’s first Native American Cupboard secretary, mentioned a newly created federal advisory committee will evaluate and suggest adjustments to derogatory federal land names, in response to a U.S. Division of the Inside press launch. 

The Advisory Committee on Reconciliation in Place Names, by a brand new Derogatory Geographic Names Activity Power, will seek the advice of with the general public and tribal representatives on potential place identify adjustments. 

Haaland additionally declared the time period “squaw,” a pejorative for Indigenous girls, to be derogatory, the press launch mentioned. She ordered the Board on Geographic Names, the federal physique tasked with naming geographic locations, to develop procedures that might take away the time period from federal utilization. 

“Squaw” at present seems within the names of greater than 650 federal land models, in response to Board on Geographic Names knowledge. 

“Racist phrases haven’t any place in our vernacular or on our federal lands. Our nation’s lands and waters must be locations to rejoice the outside and our shared cultural heritage — to not perpetuate the legacies of oppression,” Haaland mentioned within the press launch. 

“At the moment’s actions will speed up an necessary course of to reconcile derogatory place names and mark a big step in honoring the ancestors who’ve stewarded our lands since time immemorial,” she mentioned. 

Haaland famous that it sometimes takes years for the Board of Geographic Names to exchange place names as their evaluate course of is on a case-by-case foundation. There are a whole lot of identify adjustments pending earlier than the board, in response to the press launch. 

The brand new federal advisory committee goals to make this course of extra environment friendly by facilitating a “proactive and systematic growth and evaluate” of identify change proposals, the press launch mentioned. 

Some advocates welcomed Haaland’s announcement, saying that the transfer by the federal authorities is lengthy overdue.

“Names that also use derogatory phrases are an embarrassing legacy of this nation’s colonialist and racist previous,” mentioned John Echohawk, government director of the Native American Rights Fund, in a press release. “It’s well-past time for us, as a nation, to maneuver ahead, past these derogatory phrases, and present Native individuals — and all individuals — equal respect.”

“We applaud [Haaland] for taking motion to make our federal authorities and public lands extra inclusive and respectful of Native peoples,” Echohawk mentioned.

Paul Spitler, senior legislative coverage supervisor of nonprofit land conservation group The Wilderness Society, additionally applauded the announcement.

“The names of our mountains and rivers ought to honor and replicate our nation’s nice range, and advance dignity for all individuals,” Spitler mentioned in a press release Friday. “We help the Biden administration’s actions to get rid of the hundreds of racist and offensive place names on public lands and to work with various populations in native communities to create extra equitable and inclusive out of doors areas for all individuals.”

The division and the board have made related strikes through the years to exchange derogatory place names and phrases. 

In 1962, then-Inside Secretary Stewart Udall directed the board to get rid of using a derogatory time period for Black individuals. And in 1974, the board recognized a pejorative time period for Japanese individuals as derogatory and eradicated its use as effectively. 

The board additionally voted in 2008 to vary the identify of a mountain in Phoenix from “Squaw” Peak to Piestewa Peak, in honor of Military Spc. Lori Piestewa, the primary Native American girl to die in fight whereas serving within the U.S. army.

Some states, together with Oregon, Maine, Montana and Minnesota, have handed laws to ban using the phrase “squaw” in place names, in response to the press launch. 

Congressional Democrats launched laws in July to rename greater than 1,000 locations within the U.S. that function offensive language and racist slurs, Enterprise Insider reported.

Identify altering has additionally occurred within the personal sector.

In September, the Squaw Valley Ski Resort in California modified its identify to Palisades Tahoe. The ski resort is within the Olympic Valley, which was previously referred to as Squaw Valley till it hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics. 

On Friday, the Cleveland Indians, a Main League baseball crew, formally turned the Cleveland Guardians.

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