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U.S. Will Rename 660 Geographic Features- including several Adirondack landmarks

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  • U.S. Will Rename 660 Geographic Features- including several Adirondack landmarks

    Link to article: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart...mes-180979733/

    Text of article:

    U.S. Will Rename 660 Mountains, Rivers and More to Remove Racist Word

    A task force is identifying new names for sites on federal land that bear a derogatory term referring to Indigenous women

    The United States Department of the Interior (DOI) proposed a list of new names for more than 660 geographic features across the country last month, the agency announced in a statement.

    Led by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, the first Native American to serve as cabinet secretary, the February 2022 release of the list marks the next step in a sweeping plan to remove the racist and misogynist slur "squaw" from the national geographic landscape. Hundreds of U.S. geographic sites, including mountains, rivers, lakes, remote islands and more, currently are named using the word, report Neil Vigdor and Christine Hauser for the New York Times.

    "Words matter, particularly in our work to make our nation's public lands and waters accessible and welcoming to people of all backgrounds," said Haaland, per the statement.

    "Consideration of these replacements is a big step forward in our efforts to remove derogatory terms whose expiration dates are long overdue," added the secretary, who is a member of the Pueblo of the Laguna and a 35th-generation New Mexican.

    Haaland first announced a secretarial order to remove the offensive phrase from federal lands in November 2021. She created a 13-member Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force, composed of members from the National Park Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and several other government agencies, which she then tasked with surveying federal sites and generating new name alternatives, as Melissa Montalvo reports for the Fresno Bee.

    At the time, the secretary also officially declared "squaw" a derogatory term and directed the task force to replace the word with "sq*_ _ _" in all official communications, as Rina Torchinsky reports for NPR.

    Now, task force members are soliciting feedback on proposed name changes from Native American tribes and members of the public throughout the country. Those who wish to see the proposed name changes can view the full list online and submit feedback or mail comments through April 25. The task force will submit chosen names for final approval from the Board on Geographic Names, the federal body that standardizes American place names, per the New York Times.

    At least five candidate replacement names ere chosen for each geographic site. Names were picked based on nearby features-for instance, if "Castle Creek" was the closest named feature to a place called "Squaw Mesa," the first proposed name might be "Castle Mesa," reports the Fresno Bee.

    Some states, including Maine and Oregon, have already banned the word from place names, as Susan Montoya Bryan reported for the Associated Press last fall. And this month, lawmakers in California proposed their own state legislation that would replace all uses of the word in place names and geographic features, with a deadline of January 1, 2024, as Lila Seidman reports for the Los Angeles Times.

    James C. Ramos, the first and only Indigenous member of the state Legislature, told the newspaper that the phrase, which is sometimes called the "S-word," should be retired.

    "There should be no reason why there shouldn't be support to change the S-word, that is so degrading to Native American women, in the year 2022," Ramos told the Los Angeles Times.

    Also speaking with the Los Angeles Times, ACLU advocate Tedde Simon noted that slurs such as these both "perpetuate and allow for violence" against Indigenous women, which is an ongoing crisis in the U.S. Eighty-four percent of Indigenous women experience some form of violence during their lifetimes, as Brandi Morin reported for National Geographic this week.

    Last December, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN) approved a move to change the name of change Sq_ _ _ Mountain, a peak in Clear Creek County, Colorado, to Mestaa'ėhehe Mountain. The word means "owl woman" in Cheyenne, and is the name of a famous 19th-century Cheyenne female leader. The name change was brought about by the Mestaa'ėhehe Coalition, a group of local tribal leaders, as Clarissa Guy reported for Rocky Mountain PBS.

    Now, the Mestaa'ėhehe Coalition is pushing for another high-profle change: to retire the name of Mount Evans, one of the Rocky Mountain's best-known peaks, ascending more that 14,000 feet above sea level-one of the more than 50 that are known as "14ers." Its namesake is the former territorial governor of Colorado, John Evans, whose proclamation on August 11, 1864, led directly to the brutal Sand Creek Massacre. Volunteer cavalrymen killed an estimated 230 innocent Cheyenne and Arapaho people, including women, children and elders.

    These efforts, with the recent DOI initiative, are just some of the ways that communities across the country are reexamining the racist language and tropes related to Indigenous people that feature in their place names, team names, monuments and more. For instance, the dairy company Land O'Lakes retired Mia, an Indigenous woman that once graced its well-known logo, in April 2020. And sports franchises including the Cleveland baseball team and the Washington, D.C. football team have rebranded to remove offensive references to Indigenous people from their names and logos.

    In a report published earlier this year, the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers summarized helpful guidelines for those organizations and governments considering their own name changes, according to the Times.

    "Contrary to some popular rhetoric, renaming racially insensitive or otherwise inappropriately named geographic features or land units is not 'canceling history,'" the association wrote. "Rather, it is an opportunity to provide a more honest accounting of America's past and a gesture toward healing historic wounds."
    Link to an interactive map showing the geographic features to be renamed. As stated in the title, this includes a number of features within the Adirondack Park- including a bunch located in the Moose River Plains/West Canada Lakes area: https://geonarrative.usgs.gov/names_taskforce/

    If you click on each item in the map, it pops up a box with 5 nearby features. The proposal is to start with nearby geographic feature names in considering replacement names for the features in question. For example, the brook located near the Carry Lean-to is near features with names like "Onion Hill," "Buck Mountain," "Lewey Mountain," and "Lamphere Ridge," so the initially proposed replacement names could be something along the lines of "Onion Brook," "Buck Brook," "Lewey Brook," or "Lamphere Brook." Somewhat unimaginative but you have to start somewhere, I suppose- and it seems as good a starting point as any for dealing with renaming 660 different features across the country.

    But, as stated in the article, the public is also welcome to submit feedback on the proposed name changes- including, I assume, suggested alternative names for specific features. The following form can be used to submit comments electronically: https://www.regulations.gov/commento...2022-0001-0001

    And the following PDF includes instructions on how to submit comments by mail: https://public-inspection.federalreg...2022-03748.pdf

    So... any thoughts on possible relevant alternate names for some of the features located in the ADKs?
    Last edited by DSettahr; 03-31-2022, 07:21 PM.

  • #2
    One possibility that comes to mind is that this may be an opportunity to pick at least a couple of names that accurately recognize the specific Native American cultures that played a role in the early history of the Adirondack Park. While it's generally accepted that year-round habitation of much of the park by Native Americans was fairly limited, that doesn't mean that they were completely absent, either.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks for the interesting post. I was not aware that the S word was so derogatory but I guess that is just my naivety of the subject.

      I wonder why other names like nippletop and bossum were not deemed inappropriate but maybe that too will come.

      Interesting that S---- bossom ME in BSP was renamed to Moose Bossom (per the USGS link posted) which to me just seems rediculous. Most nippletops and bossom mountains appear to get their name from their resemblance to the human body shape. To create a Moose Bossum mountain just seems like a MS Word 'replace' mistake or a committee decision or perhaps an "I'll show you" response.

      Comment


      • #4
        With little or no federal land inside the ADK Park don’t see where this will change any names in NY unless NYS jumps on the band wagon ? I believe the only National Forest in NY is the Hector Land Use area in the Finger lakes region ?

        Comment


        • #5
          It seems like a good program to me, and I am sure they'll come up with something suitable for the new names. The old names will linger for a while on physical maps, but since so much is done electronically now the changes can be implemented much faster, I imagine.

          Comment


          • #6
            Mapmakers full employment act. About time, since most acts are for lawyers and accountants.

            Comment


            • #7
              Whether it gets corrected on all maps will depend on the base map used at the various sites that show maps. There's the National Map which appears to be linked to the OPs first post. And then there's another one that seems to be in more widespread use.

              How do I conclude this?
              From an experience I had with USGS correcting two location errors on their National Map. After the fixes appeared on the National Map I found that the fix didn't apply to many online maps; such as, APA, DEC Info-locator, ACME, Caltopo, Alltrails. All these seem to be using a different base map. It's appears to me to be similar to, same as, or derived from the 1970s metric maps. I concluded this because one error I fixed started with the 1970s metric maps. The second error started with the National Map which I believe was a Lat/Lon data entry error for the GNIS feature.

              Don

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              • #8
                Just waiting for rescuers and rescuees not using same base map. This political correctness may endanger safety.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by billconner View Post
                  Just waiting for rescuers and rescuees not using same base map. This political correctness may endanger safety.
                  Its not political correctness when it’s a derogatory term. SAR crews are very knowledgeable, I’m sure they will be able to handle it. There are SAR crew members on the forum, if they say it’s an issue I’ll believe it.
                  Last edited by ILikeRocks; 04-02-2022, 07:56 AM. Reason: Typo

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by billconner View Post
                    Just waiting for rescuers and rescuees not using same base map. This political correctness may endanger safety.
                    When I was in SAR, our training drills included many curve balls to ensure we were ready for searches. For example: While in the field they would give us coordinates using a different DATAM than the map without telling us and having already used the map datam on the same task. Or they might tell us there was a call in from XXX brook located 1/2 mile away and then put the victim in another XXX brook located further away. Or they would leave clues in little areas you might skip on a search or in areas that were very difficult to access like deep swamps. We were trained not to assume and not to short cut.

                    It did pay off as one searcher reported finding a lost elederly woman in a swap after another searcher had said: "theres no way shes in there" and suggested skirting it. Nope they went deep into it, and there she was.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      There was a time when NYSDEC had knowledgable people handling initial SAR callouts at DEC HQ in Ray Brook. Then some admin wizard decided to move all those folks (not the people, just the function) to tha Albany office. It didn't take long before massive confusion came when calls came that identified locations unfamiliar to the Albany folks. Which Deer Pond are you talking about where you need emergency help?" After several of those incidents, that SAR function was moved back to Ray Brook with former knowledgeble local staff.
                      Last edited by Wldrns; 04-02-2022, 07:00 PM.
                      "Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth." -Walt Whitman

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ILikeRocks View Post
                        Its not political correctness when it?s a derogatory term. SAR crews are very knowledgeable, I?m sure they will be able to handle it. There are SAR crew members on the forum, if they say it?s an issue I?ll believe it.
                        Changing place names because they are offensive is practically the definition of political correctness.

                        Because of my familiarity with it, this one caught my attention.

                        "After returning from his first trip up the St. Lawrence River in 1603, French explorer Samuel de Champlain?s account of the voyage was entitled ?On Savages.? Later, as the unofficial governor of New France, Champlain followed the typical path of a 17th century colonial governor: Trying to convert the ?heathen? natives and helping to spark a wave of local conflicts."

                        Suggestions for renaming Lake Champlain anyone?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by billconner View Post
                          Changing place names because they are offensive is practically the definition of political correctness.

                          Because of my familiarity with it, this one caught my attention.

                          "After returning from his first trip up the St. Lawrence River in 1603, French explorer Samuel de Champlain?s account of the voyage was entitled ?On Savages.? Later, as the unofficial governor of New France, Champlain followed the typical path of a 17th century colonial governor: Trying to convert the ?heathen? natives and helping to spark a wave of local conflicts."

                          Suggestions for renaming Lake Champlain anyone?

                          It’s a flat out racial slur, how can anyone support that?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I know not popular, but Champlain and Lake George should probably revert to their native names. But of course different tribes had different names for them, so maybe it doesn't really matter... it's a lake. Glorifying Samuel de Champlain is probably not ideal IMO.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              In Buffalo, there's an island and fishing hotspot on the Niagara River that was changed from Squaw Island to Unity Island back in 2015: https://www.wbfo.org/local/2015-06-2...d-unity-island

                              While the recent "cancel culture" phenomenon can go a bit overboard, I'm fine with these name changes as long as the replacement names aren't something ridiculously cringey.

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