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Federal effort to remove derogatory place names identifies 11 Southern Utah sites

The sites include Squaw Peak in Provo and Squaw Creek in Cedar City.

(Evan Vucci | AP Photo) Interior Secretary Deb Haaland speaks during a Tribal Nations Summit during Native American Heritage Month, in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, on Nov. 15, 2021, in Washington. Secretary Haaland on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, declared "squaw" to be a derogatory term and said she is taking steps to remove the term from federal government use and to replace other derogatory place names.

ST. GEORGE • On Nov. 19, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland issued two federal orders aimed at removing derogatory names from the nation’s geographic features.

Secretarial Order 3404 formally identified the term “squaw” as derogatory and created a task force to find replacement names for geographic features using the term. Secretarial Order 3405 created the Advisory Committee on Reconciliation in Place Names to seek out, review and recommend changes to other offensive names on public lands.

In a press release announcing the orders, Haaland said, “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.”

At least 11 sites in Southern Utah bear the “squaw” name, according to a database of place names maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey. The term is used as a sexual slur for Native American women. Across the state, over 50 geographic features bear the derogatory name, including Squaw Peak in Provo, Squaw Canyon on Pine Valley Mountain and Squaw Creek in Cedar City.

To read more, visit stgeorgeutah.com.

This article is published through the Utah News Collaborative, a partnership of news organizations in Utah that aim to inform readers across the state.

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