Several natural sites around Washington have been given new names after efforts by the U.S. Department of the Interior to rid them of Native slurs.
Specifically, it was intended to remove the term “squaw”, an ethnic and sexual slur historically used to refer to Indigenous women. Though universally considered offensive by First Nations peoples, it is included in the names of hundreds of natural places and geographic features around the United States and Canada.
In 2021, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland declared the term derogatory and formally ordered it removed from the names of natural places.
The word has now been removed from 660 mountains, rivers, valleys, streams and other places.
The Washington State Board of Place Names has been working for years to remove such names, but recently received information about new names from indigenous peoples.
Washington’s renamed locations now include:
- Roup Canyon, Lincoln County
- Gee Island, Clark County
- South Tocannon Springs, Garfield County
- Big Joe’s Creek, Clalham County
- Mount Condon, Okanogan County
- Arvik Wartum, Skamania County
- Pataniks Pushtai, Skamania County
- Timura Wapikto, Skamania County
- Wenach Peak, Columbia County
- Okanogan County Gooseberry Creek
- Gathering Creek, Jefferson County
- Sunkilt Creek, Stephens County
- Suwanana, Kriquitat County
- Kittitas County Nosh Nosh Wortam
- Swaram Creek Ridge, Shulan/Okanogan County
- Galena Valley, Pend Oreille County
- Kiya Lake, Pierce County
- Woptushwa, Chelan County
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For more information, visit the DNR’s Place Names Commission page. A complete list of name changes across the United States can be found here.