Native Americans and people of other races successfully fight racist geographical names in the United States — from Sambo Creek and Chinaman Kulch to the Dead Indian Mountain.
For more than 150 years, the 3,500-foot mountain west of Denver, Colorado, was known as Squa Mountain. Since last week she has been known as Mestaa’ehehe Mountain, a female Cheyenne translator and mediator, commonly known as ‘Owl Woman’ in English. In 19th-century Colorado, these women promoted peaceful relations between Native tribes and progressive white immigrants.
The name change was officially finalized last week by the Geographical Names Board of the U.S. Geological Survey and the Geographical Names Board of the U.S. Land Agency. It was the first “offensive geographical name” the state of Colorado wanted to change. Squa is an Algonquin word that once meant “woman”, but in the colonial Wild West it has become commonplace with sexual meanings, a derogatory term for Native women.
Home Secretary Deb Hollande, the first U.S. government official to be of Native descent, last month branded the word “squa” as offensive and racist. He had earlier announced measures to completely remove these geographical names in areas under the control of the Central Government. Across the United States, several hundred names have been suggested for disappearance.
Under the influence of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, support for the renaming of Hollande gained traction before Hollande came to power. More and more people want to get rid of names, pictures and symbols that represent the history of the original colonial oppression. Communities and other ‘people of color’.
Native Americans in Colorado are delighted with the official name change of Mount Squaw. Deanna Limby of the North Cheyenne Tribal Preservation Office told the AP: “A disgraceful name that undermines the sacred power of our women is gone. Mestahe, she has been shining on the mountain for generations and will be an inspiration to all of us.
Ancient Native Names
Commissions in other US states have also started working under false names. In California, Squaw Valley Ski Resort changed its name to Policates Tahoe, which has been heard by local tribal groups for decades. The ski resort is located in the Olympic Valley and was known as the Squa Valley until the 1960 Winter Olympics. In the state of Arizona, Mount Squa Ditz was renamed the Isanacles Peaks after the Apache god.
It’s not just about geographical names that offend Native Americans like the Dead Indian Mountain in Oregon. Black and Asian Americans may accuse the map of infamous names such as Sambo Creek in Pennsylvania, Mulatto Run in Virginia, or Chinaman Kulch in Colorado. New names are often based on old native names. After all, the Indians came there first.
In Colorado, meanwhile, many more names are on the roll. Such as Mount Evans, named after John Evans, who was governor of the state at the time of the Sand Creek massacre of 1864. There, despite the ceasefire, the U.S. military unexpectedly attacked the Cheyenne and Arapaho camps. More than 230 women, children and the elderly were massacred. Evans, who continued to fight against the ‘enemy Indians’, had to resign.
Northern Chain member Otto lost some ancestor in the Bride Hare massacre and wants to lose the name Mount Evans. He said that name was a disgrace to my people Washington Post. “The fact that Sand Creek’s crime was somehow forgiven by the people and nation of Colorado is a lasting reminder to my family and other descendants of those who survived the massacre.”
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