Thursday, September 8, 2022

Interior Department Removes Derogatory Term from Humboldt Sites, Hundreds of Others Nationwide

Posted By on Thu, Sep 8, 2022 at 3:45 PM

click to enlarge screenshot_2022-09-08_3.31.45_pm.png
The Department of the Interior announced today that replacement names have been approved for hundreds of valleys, streams, ridges, summits and other geographic features across the nation, including several in Humboldt County, that contained a derogatory word for Native women.

The final vote by the Board on Geographic Names — the federal body tasked with naming geographic places — marks the culmination of months of work by the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force established by Secretary Deb Haaland last year.

“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 news release. “I am grateful to the members of the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force and the Board on Geographic Names for their efforts to prioritize this important work. Together, we are showing why representation matters and charting a path for an inclusive America.”


According to the release, the task received more than 1,000 recommendations for name changes during its public comment period and several hundred more were brought forward after close to 70 tribal governments “participated in nation-to-nation” discussions.

The newly assigned names went into effect immediately, the department said.

The seven sites in Humboldt County — which run from the northern interior down to Southern Humboldt — are now called Panther Prairie, Pkwo’-o-lo ‘ue-merkw, Spruce Grove Creek, Telegraph Creek, Grasshopper Creek, Grasshopper Creek Ridge and Tip Top Ridge Creek.

The entire list and the locations can be found here and here.

But, as a July of 2015 Journal article notes, those were hardly the only offensive place names to be found in the area, including some named after participants in the 1860 massacre of mainly Wiyot women, children and elders at Tuluwat.

In a similar vein to the DOI’s process, the State Parks and Recreation Commission voted unanimously last year to restore the name of Sue-meg to Patrick’s Point State Park (which referenced a man who once lived on the jutting peninsula and was known to have participated in the massacres of Native people, including children) to honor the designation used by the Yurok people for the area since time immemorial.

The Department of the Interior has undertaken similar efforts before, according to a previous release, including back in 1962 when then Secretary Stewart Udall identified the N-word as derogatory and in 1974 when the Board on Geographic Names eliminated the use a pejorative term for Japanese people.

Read the full DOI release below:
WASHINGTON — The Department of the Interior today announced the Board on Geographic Names has voted on the final replacement names for nearly 650 geographic features featuring the word sq___, including 84 in California. The final vote completes the last step in the historic efforts to remove a term from federal use that has historically been used as an offensive ethnic, racial and sexist slur, particularly for Indigenous women. 

“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,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “I am grateful to the members of the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force and the Board on Geographic Names for their efforts to prioritize this important work. Together, we are showing why representation matters and charting a path for an inclusive America.”


The list of new names can be found on the U.S. Geological Survey website with a map of locations.


The final vote reflects a months-long effort by the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force established by Secretary’s Order 3404, which included representatives from the Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, National Park Service, Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Civil Rights, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, and the U.S. Geological Survey and the Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service.


During the public comment period, the Task Force received more than 1,000 recommendations for name changes. Nearly 70 Tribal governments participated in nation-to-nation consultation, which yielded another several hundred recommendations. While the new names are immediately effective for federal use, the public may continue to propose name changes for any features — including those announced today — through the regular BGN process.


The renaming effort included several complexities: evaluation of multiple public or Tribal recommendations for the same feature; features that cross Tribal, federal and state jurisdictions; inconsistent spelling of certain Native language names; and reconciling diverse opinions from various proponents. In all cases, the Task Force carefully evaluated every comment and proposal.


In July, the Department announced an additional review by the BGN for seven locations, including in California, that are considered unincorporated populated places. Noting that there are unique concerns with renaming these sites, the BGN will seek out additional review from the local communities and stakeholders before making a final determination.


Secretary's Order 3404 and the Task Force considered only the sq___ derogatory term in its scope. Secretary’s Order 3405 created a Federal Advisory Committee for the Department to formally receive advice from the public regarding additional derogatory terms, derogatory terms on federal land units, and the process for derogatory name reconciliation. Next steps on the status of that Committee will be announced in the coming weeks.

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

About The Author

Kimberly Wear

Bio:
Kimberly Wear is the assistant editor of the North Coast Journal.

Latest in News Blog

socialize

Facebook | Twitter

© 2022 North Coast Journal

Website powered by Foundation