The Biden administration is scrubbing a “derogatory term” from 660 federal sites, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced Tuesday.
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland declared “squaw” a derogatory term and created the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force to come up with new names through Secretarial Order 3404.
According to the order, squaw “has historically been used as an offensive ethnic, racial, and sexist slur, particularly for Indigenous women.”
The task force “will include representatives from federal land management agencies, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion experts from the Department. The Order requires that the task force engage in Tribal consultation and consider public feedback on proposed name changes.”
Their first order of action is to replace the full spelling of the word with “sq–” for all official communications.
“Words matter, particularly in our work to make our nation’s public lands and waters accessible and welcoming to people of all backgrounds. Consideration of these replacements is a big step forward in our efforts to remove derogatory terms whose expiration dates are long overdue,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Throughout this process, broad engagement with Tribes, stakeholders and the general public will help us advance our goals of equity and inclusion.”
She explained the order will “mark a significant step in honoring the ancestors who have stewarded our lands since time immemorial.”
Haaland also created the Advisory Committee on Reconciliation in Place Names with “representation from Indian Tribes, Tribal and Native Hawaiian organizations, civil rights, anthropology, and history experts, and members of the general public” to “broadly solicit, review, and recommend changes to other derogatory geographic and federal land unit names” through Secretarial Order 3405.