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Local News

28 Landmarks in Colorado Receive New Names

AP Photo

Reinette LeJeune

The U.S. government has finally renamed nearly 650 geographical locations named with a racist and misogynistic slur towards Native American Women. Across the country there are peaks, lakes, streams, and other geographical features that carry in their names the term “squaw.” Originating from the Algonquin language, the term might have once meant “woman,” but over the centuries the word was shaped into a misogynist and racist term to disparage and dehumanize indigenous women, according to experts.

This nearly year-long initiative was led by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American cabinet secretary, after taking office last year. Haaland publicly called attention to the term as derogatory, putting together a task force that submitted the new names for final approval to the Board on Geographic Names, the federal body that standardizes American place names. “I feel a deep obligation to use my platform to ensure that our public lands and waters are accessible and welcoming. That starts with removing racist and derogatory names that have graced federal locations for far too long,” Haaland said in a statement, “Consideration of these replacements is a big step forward in our efforts to remove derogatory terms whose expiration dates are long overdue.” The Interior Department has ordered the renaming of places carrying derogatory terms before – in 1962 for locations holding racist terms for Black people, and again in 1974 for locations holding racist terms for Japanese people. Of course, there has been plenty of opposition from non-native white Americans, leading the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers to publish a detailed report this year that stated national efforts to rename geographic locations in the United States that still bear racist or sexual slurs against Native Americans and African Americans were not “canceling history.”

All but 10 states have at least one geographical feature on federal land or waterways that contains the slur, according to the interactive map maintained by the federal government. Some names, such as those of civil features, including counties and incorporated places like Squaw Lake, Minnesota, are outside the federal government’s authority and won’t be included in the effort. The majority of these locations can be found in California with over 100 sites being renamed. In Colorado, 28 separate sites have now been renamed and updated: 

1. Petite Tetons – Routt County

2. Earthlodge Rock – Weld County

3. Artists Fingers – Mesa County

4. Colorow Creek – Eagle County

5. Nuchu Creek – Summit County

6. Bug Canyon – Dolores, San Juan counties

7. Sego Point – Dolores, San Juan counties

8. Kaan Paachihpi – Montezuma County

9. Pawnee Hill – Yuma County

10. Snow Creek – Archuleta County

11. Pargin Creek – Archuleta County

12. Eightmile Canyon – Archuleta County

13. Kaavapayawiyagat Gulch – Ouray County

14. Grizzly Creek – Hinsdale County

15. Grizzly Lake – Hinsdale County

16. Little Spruce Creek – Hinsdale County

17. Grizzly Pass – Hinsdale County

18. Hairpin Hill – Montrose County

19. Cimarron Creek – Montrose County

20. Red Gulch – Gunnison County

21. Tabeguache Creek – Chaffee County

22. Porcupine Creek – Saguache County

23. Evening Star Mountain – Teller County

24. Maize Gulch – Teller County

25. Soapy Creek – Fremont County

26. West Pawnee Trail Canyon – Baca County

27. East Pawnee Trail Canyon – Baca County

28. Mestaa’éhehe Pass – Clear Creek County