President Joe Biden’s Interior Department (DOI) released replacement names for almost 650 “racist and derogatory” geographical features on federal lands, the agency said Thursday.
The word “squaw” was determined by DOI’s Board of Geographic Names to be an an “offensive ethnic, racial and sexist slur, particularly for Indigenous women,” according to a press release. The word is from 1622 and means “an Indigenous woman of North America,” according to Merriam-Webster, and it was in the names of canyons, lakes, springs and other geographical features until Thursday. (RELATED: Biden’s Interior Secretary Refers To The US Capital As The ‘Ancestral Homelands’ Of Native American Tribes)
“I feel a deep obligation to use my platform to ensure that our public lands and waters are accessible and welcoming,” DOI Secretary Deb Haaland said Thursday. “Together, we are showing why representation matters and charting a path for an inclusive America.”
DOI created a Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force in 2021, saying in an order “squaw” will soon be moved out of the names in federal land features. The agency held a final vote on the land name replacements and the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force received over 1,000 name recommendations during the public comment period, DOI said Thursday.
Karen Budd-Falen, deputy solicitor for DOI’s parks and wildlife division under former President Donald Trump, said the Biden administration is too focused on “political correctness” instead of more important policy issues.
“There are great issues in this country that really need time and attention,” Budd-Falen told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “I just worry that we’re so busy worrying about political correctness and we’re not focused on these other issues more pressing issues and issues that are really going to affect the future structure of energy and American rural communities.”
Geographical features in dozens of states, including California, Alaska, Alabama and Pennsylvania are impacted by DOI’s order. While the new land names are effective immediately, the public can still suggest other name changes.
“It’s unconscionable that at a time of record inflation, record high gas prices, and an unsecured border, this is what the Biden administration is focusing on,” Republican Texas Rep. Troy Nehls told the DCNF. “This is yet another attempt to rewrite history to fit the Democrats’ extremist narrative.”
“It’s a shame, and this is not what the American people want,” said Nehls.
DOI did not respond to a request for comment.
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