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10 New England landmarks renamed to get rid of the derogatory word ‘squaw’

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“Squaw” has been used as a derogatory term for a native woman.

Ten New England landmarks have changed their names to remove a derogatory term for Native American women.

The names of the monuments have been changed because they contain the word “squaw,” which was originally just the Algonquin word for “woman,” but over the years it has been used as a racist and sexist term for Native American women.

In November 2021, Interior Sec. Deb Haaland issued a secretarial order finding the term derogatory and instructed the US Geological Survey (USGS) to identify landmarks with the term in their name with the intention of renaming them.

“Racist terms have no place in our vernacular or on our federal grounds. Our nation’s lands and waters should be places to celebrate the great outdoors and our shared cultural heritage — not to perpetuate the legacies of oppression,” Haaland, who is part of the Pueblo of Laguna tribe in New Mexico, said in a statement. a press release about the secretariat. to order.

Since then, the USGS has identified more than 650 geologic features with the word “squaw” in their name. Five of these monuments are in Massachusetts, three in Connecticut, one in New Hampshire, and one in Maine.

The review process that Haaland created for renaming the landmarks involved asking for suggestions from locals about what an appropriate replacement name would be.

Here is a list of the sights:

Massachusetts:

  • An island in Barnstable called Squaw Island has been renamed Halls Island
  • A swamp on the aforementioned island called the Squaw Island Marshes has been renamed the Halls Island Marshes
  • Squawbetty Hill in Raynham has been renamed Betty Hill
  • A large rock in Quincy called Squaw Rock has been renamed Nickerson Rock
  • A mountain in Great Barrington called Squaw Peak has been renamed Peeskawso Peak

Connecticut

  • A mountain in Plainfield called Squaw Rock has been renamed Half Hill Rock
  • A stream in Ashford called Squaw Hollow Brook has been renamed Upton Hollow Brook
  • An island in Branford called Squaw Rocks has been renamed Sunset Point Rocks

New Hampshire

  • A cove in Sandwich called Squaw Cove has been renamed Eastman Cove

Maine

  • An island in Penobscot County called White Squaw Island has been renamed No Name Island

The USGS did not identify any geological features with the word “squaw” in them in Vermont or Rhode Island.

There has been mixed reaction to the renaming of these Massachusetts landmarks.

In Barnstable, the local Indigenous people were divided on whether to rename Squaw Island.

In Quincy, the local Indigenous people, the mayor and at least one city councilor opposed the name change.

But in Great Barrington, local Indigenous people supported the name change and took the opportunity to rename Squaw Peak to Peeskawso Peak, which contains the Mohican word for “virtuous woman.”

In her secretarial assignment to have landmark names changed, Haaland also established the Place Name Reconciliation Advisory Committee to look further into identifying and renaming landmarks containing derogatory words.

Haaland’s attempt to remove derogatory terms from landmark names is not unprecedented.

According to the press release, in 1962, Interior Sec. Stewart Udall identified the n-word as derogatory and instructed the Board on Geographic Names (BGN) to develop a policy to eliminate its use. In 1974, the BGN identified a pejorative term for Japanese as derogatory and eliminated its use.

In addition, according to the press release, several states, including Montana, Oregon, Maine and Minnesota, have passed legislation banning the use of the word “squaw” in place names.

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