The Department of Interior has recommended new names for more than 660 geographical sites that it said have derogatory Indigenous slurs in their names, including 28 sites in Colorado.
Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland ordered the renaming after she formally declared “squaw” to be a derogatory term and ordered a task force to create new names for the peaks, lakes, creeks and other sites on federal lands that use the word.
Historically, the term has been used as “an offensive ethnic, racial, and sexist slur particularly for Indigenous women,” the department said.
Mestaa’ėhehe Mountain was named by the Colorado Geographic Naming Board Advisory in December, to remove a derogatory slur. It is named after the influential Cheyenne translator known as Owl Woman. Mestaa’ėhehe is pronounced mess-taw-HAY. (Click here for an audio clip of the pronunciation.)
“Racist terms have no place in our vernacular or on our federal lands. Our nation’s lands and waters should be places to celebrate the outdoors and our shared cultural heritage — not to perpetuate the legacies of oppression,” Haaland said in a news release.
The Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force proposed the following names for Colorado sites:
Current Name, Location: Proposed names
A renaming task force said it derived the following list of “candidate replacement names” largely from nearby geographic features. “For example, ‘Castle Creek’ is the nearest named feature to ‘Squaw Mesa.’ The first candidate replacement name for the derogatory named feature would be ‘Castle Mesa.’”
- Squaw Mountain, Routt County: Cantling Creek, Little Snake River, Battle Creek, Road Gulch, Spring Gulch
- Squaw Rock, Weld County: North Fork Geary Creek, Chalk Bluffs, Geary Creek, Simpson Creek, Antelope Spring
- Squaw Fingers, Mesa County: Artists Point, Monument Canyon, Black Ridge, Gold Star Canyon, Ute Canyon
- Squaw Creek, Summit County: Palmer Knob, Gore Range, Williams Fork Mountains, Target Buff, Flat Top
- Squaw Creek, Eagle County: Sawatch Range, Elk Park, Bear Cat Spring, Bellyache Mountain, Stag Gulch Spring
- Squaw Canyon, Dolores County, San Juan County (stretches across Utah border): Bug Point, Champagne Spring, Gobblers Knob, The Horn, The Pocket
- Squaw Point, Dolores County, San Juan County (stretches across Utah border): Levigood Canyon, Champagne Spring, Spook Canyon, Brewer Canyon, Papoose Canyon
- Squaw, Montezuma County: Mesa Verde West Rim, Head Draw, Chimney Rock Draw, West Chimney Rock Draw, Navajo Wash
- Squaw Hill, Yuma County: Black Wolf Creek, Arikaree River, South Fork Dry Willow Creek, Whombles Meadow, Sand Creek
- Squaw Creek, Archuleta County: Yellowjacket Pass, Hayden Reservoir Number 1, Ute Park, Pargin Mountain, Crib Spring
- Little Squaw Creek, Archuleta County: Pargin Mountain, Yellowjacket Pass, Hayden Reservoir Number 1, Dry Lake Reservoir, Ute Park
- Squaw Canyon, Archuleta County: Eightmile Mesa, Echo Canyon Reservoir, Turkey Mountain, Oakbrush Hill, Winter Hills
- Squaw Gulch, Ouray County: Hayden Mountain, Bear Creek Falls, Mother Cline Slide, Twin Peaks, Ouray Hot Springs
- Squaw Creek, Hinsdale County: Rio Grande Reservoir, Chief Mountain, Continental Divide, Long Park, Cimarrona Peak
- Squaw Lake, Hinsdale County: Grouse Rincon, Snowslide Canyon, East Fork Weminuche Creek, Chief Mountain, Dog Rincon
- Little Squaw Creek, Hinsdale County: Chief Mountain, River Hill, Long Park, Continental Divide, Rio Grande Reservoir
- Squaw Pass, Hinsdale County: Continental Divide, Hossick Lake, Hossick Creek, Cimarrona Creek, Cimarrona Peak
- Squaw Hill, Montrose County: Hairpin Creek, Cedar Creek, Dry Cedar Creek, Rawhide Gulch, Shinn Park
- Squaw Creek, Montrose County: Coal Hill, Diehl Point, Crystal Reservoir, Sheep Knob, Morrow Point Reservoir
- Squaw Gulch, Gunnison County: Red Mountain, Whetstone Mountain, Ranger Hot Spring, Cement Creek Spring, Big Alkali Lake
- Squaw Creek, Chaffee County: Sawatch Range, Jones Peak, Mount Shavano, Tabeguache Peak, Mount White
- Squaw Creek, Saguache County: Long Park, Lower South Park, La Garita Mountains, Mount Lion, Carnero Pass
- Squaw Mountain, Teller County: Aregua Gulch, North Fork Wilson Creek, Wilson Creek, South Fork Wilson Creek, Gold Run
- Squaw Gulch, Teller County: Guyot Hill, Globe Hill, Ironclad Hill, Beacon Hill, Rosebud Hill
- Squaw Creek, Fremont County: Taylor Soda Spring, Soapy Hill, Waugh Mountain, Wall Mountain, Cottonwood Ridge
- West Squaw Canyon, Baca County, Cimarron County (stretches across Oklahoma border): Wisdom Tooth, Cave Spring, Dripping Spring, Ute Canyon, Devils Elbow
- East Squaw Canyon, Baca County, Cimarron County (stretches across Oklahoma border): Dripping Spring, Ute Canyon, Devils Elbow, Wisdom Tooth, Razor Blade Mesa
- Squaw Pass, Clear Creek County: Deadman Gulch, Corral Creek, Beaver Brook, Vance Peak, Mestaa’ėhehe Mountain
The federal task force is different from the Colorado board formed by Gov. Jared Polis, which made the recommendation to rename Mestaa’ėhehe Mountain.