by Eric Lendrum
On Tuesday, the United States Department of Interior (DOI) announced that it would be declaring the term “squaw” to be derogatory, and would rename over 600 historical sites that feature the term.
As reported by CNN, DOI Secretary Deb Haaland first wrote an order back in November declaring that the longtime term “squaw,” which often referred to female Native Americans, was racist and sexist. To this end, Haaland announced the creation of the Names Task Force, consisting of 13 members, for the purpose of coming up with new names for the over 600 sites that included the term in their names.
“Words matter, particularly in our work to make our nation’s public lands and waters accessible and welcoming to people of all backgrounds,” said Haaland in her press release. “Throughout this process, broad engagement with Tribes, stakeholders and the general public will help us advance our goals of equity and inclusion.”
Haaland provided no evidence to suggest that the term “squaw” is considered offensive, as the name has been used frequently throughout American history. Examples of such historical sites with the word in their names include White Squaw Island in Maine and Squaw Hollow in Oregon. But the DOI has already taken additional steps to completely erase the word from existence; in official internal communications, the word “squaw” now appears as “sq_ _ _.”
The DOI on Tuesday posted a list of potential replacement names, and is asking for public comment to contribute further possible names. The comment period will be open through the end of April.
– – –
Eric Lendrum graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was the Secretary of the College Republicans and the founding chairman of the school’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter. He has interned for Young America’s Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, and the White House, and has worked for numerous campaigns including the 2018 re-election of Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-22). He is currently a co-host of The Right Take podcast.
Photo “Deb Haaland” by Department of the Interior. Background Photo “Department of the Interior” by Matthew Bisanz. CC BY-SA 3.0.