Public input sought to change derogatory names of geographic features

Wisconsin State Farmer
There are currently 28 geographic features in Wisconsin bearing the name "squaw" that have been identified by the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force needing replacement names

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) is seeking public comment on replacement names for 665 geographic feature names recently declared derogatory by DOI. The DOI is accepting comments from the public through April 25, 2022.

According to the release, DOI Secretary Deb Haaland signed Secretarial Order 3404 last fall, declaring “squaw” a derogatory term and implementing procedures to remove the word from use on federal geographic features and lands, including establishing a task force.

A federal advisory committee could deem the names of other features including lakes, creeks, rivers, flowages, federal land units and more as being derogatory. That Committee has yet to be established. 

There are currently 28 geographic features in Wisconsin that have been identified by the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force needing replacement names. The features including Squaw Lake, Squaw Creek, Squaw Island and more stretch across 14 counties, most in the northern part of the state.

Historically, other derogatory words, including the N-word and a pejorative for “Japanese,” have been identified by past secretaries or the federal Board of Geographic Names and eliminated their use.

The public can submit comments by April 25, 2022 by either of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Submit written comments online at http://www.regulations.gov by entering “DOI-2022-0001” in the Search bar and clicking “Search.”
  • Submit Comments By Mail To: Reconciliation of Derogatory Geographic Names, MS-511, U.S. Geological Survey, 12201 Sunrise Valley Dr., Reston, VA 20192.

Note: All submissions must include Docket Number DOI-2022-0001. All comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided.