The Department of the Interior announced on Thursday that a board had voted to rename five places in states across the country that previously included a racist term for a Native American woman.
In a release, the department noted that the Board on Geographic Names had voted on final replacement names for nearly 650 geographic features but said an additional review was completed for seven locations that “are considered unincorporated populated places.”
Of those seven, the five renamed sites are located in California, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.
The changes came after a year-long process to remove the historically offensive word “squaw” from the names of geographic sites across the country.
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Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland visits the cemetery of the Camp Amache site in Granada, Colorado, on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022.
(Photo by Hyoung Chang/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
“Words matter, particularly in our work to ensure our nation’s public lands and waters are accessible and welcoming to people of all backgrounds,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement. “I am grateful to the members of the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force and the Board on Geographic Names for their efforts to finalize the removal of this harmful word. Together, we are showing why representation matters and charting a path for an inclusive America.”
Two places in Alaska and Wyoming were removed from consideration.
The list of all new names will be updated on the U.S. Geological Survey website.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, speaks during a news conference on July 22, 2021, in Denver.
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
In North Dakota, the new name Homesteaders Gap was selected as a nod to the community’s local history, although area residents were reportedly divided.
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Two other newly named places are the California Central Valley communities of Loybas Hill, which translates to “Young Lady,” and Yokuts Valley.
The others are Partridgeberry, Tennessee, and Lynn Creek, Texas.
A statue of Simon Bolivar and the Stewart Lee Udall Department of the Interior Building, photographed on Friday, July 16, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
The decision has long precedent and the department had ordered the renaming of places with derogatory terms for Black and Japanese people in 1962 and 1974, respectively.
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Notably, Haaland is the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.