WASHINGTON — Federal officials have renamed nearly 650 sites across the country as part of an initiative to remove the ethnic slur “sq__” from federal lands.
The Department of the Interior said the Board on Geographic Names (BGN) voted on the replacement names for the geographic features featuring the offensive word. The final vote completed 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 Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. “We are showing why representation matters and charting a path for an inclusive America.”
The final vote reflects a months-long effort by the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force established by Secretary’s Order 3404. The task force 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, and nearly 70 Tribal governments participated in nation-to-nation consultation.
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.
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