GIRARD, Ohio (WKBN) – The names of nearly 650 geographic features, including a few in Trumbull County, will be renamed to remove the word “squaw,” which the federal government has deemed offensive.
The Department of Interior announced last week that the Board of Geographic Names voted on replacement names to complete the last step in historic efforts to remove the term from federal use. According to a news release from the Department of Interior, the word has historically been used as an offensive ethnic, racial and sexist slur, particularly for Indigenous women.
Locally, Squaw Creek is being renamed Girard Creek, and Squaw Valley Park Lake will now be Girard Valley Park Lake.
The final vote on the renaming reflects a months-long effort by the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force, which includes 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.
“Words matter, particularly in our work to make our nation’s public lands and waters accessible and welcoming to people of all backgrounds. Consideration of these replacements is a big step forward in our efforts to remove derogatory terms whose expiration dates are long overdue,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Throughout this process, broad engagement with Tribes, stakeholders and the general public will help us advance our goals of equity and inclusion.”
While the new names are immediately effective for federal use, the public may continue to propose name changes for any features — including those previously announced — through the regular Board of Geographic Names’ process.