Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the The Daily Wire. The author of this post is Tim Meads.
The Department of the Interior (DOI) announced Friday that its Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force is in the final steps of removing the word squaw from certain federally owned lands across the United States.
The Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force was created under the Biden administration in November 2021. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland also declared "squaw"
to be derogatory and ordered the task force to review the term across 660 locations throughout the country. On Friday, DOI announced that the task force had concluded its review of those locations.
"I am grateful to the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force for their work to ensure that racist names like sq___ no longer have a place on our federal lands. I look forward to the results of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names vote, and to implement changes as soon as is reasonable,"
Haaland said in a press release. (original censorship included)
The press release also noted, "The Task Force this week provided replacement name recommendations to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN). The BGN is expected to vote on the Task Force recommendations in September, at which point a final list will be published."
The word squaw is thought to have originated in part from the Algonquian language and was used by early European settlers to refer to Native American women. Since that time, the word squaw has been used in a racist manner to belittle Native American women down to female anatomy, some argue.
"Racist terms have no place in our vernacular or on our federal lands,"
Haaland said in November 2021. "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."
Abenaki scholar Marge Bruchac has argued that squaw is not offensive in and of itself unless it is intended to be so.
"...When I hear it spoken by Native peoples, in its proper context, I hear the voices of the ancestors. I am reminded of powerful grandmothers who nurtured our people and fed the strangers, of proud women chiefs who stood up against them, and of mothers and daughters and sisters who still stand here today,"
she wrote in 1999. "In their honor I demand that our language, and our women, and our history, be treated with respect."
The Interior Department also noted that the agency has undergone steps to remove offensive language in the past.
"Derogatory names have previously been identified by the Secretary of the Interior or the Board on Geographic Names and have been comprehensively replaced,"
the agency said in a press release. "In 1962, Secretary Stewart Udall identified the N-word as derogatory, and directed that the BGN develop a policy to eliminate its use. In 1974, the Board on Geographic Names identified a pejorative term for 'Japanese' as derogatory and eliminated its use."