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A Washington state agency wants the public’s help in its effort to rename 18 geographic features in the state that use a derogatory name that refers to Native American women. Spokane Public Radio’s Steve Jackson reports.
The word in question, you have probably heard. And it’s something that has been considered to be derogatory to Native Americans for years.
“I’m not going to say that word, no. It’s not a word I’ll say.”
That’s Sara Palmer, chair of the Washington State Committee on Geographic Names. The word has been commonly used by non-Natives as the word for a Native American woman, but in fact is considered highly offensive. And at the moment, it appears in the names of eighteen geographic features in Washington.
“It is a term that has been used in a very negative way, and in a sexual way sometimes about Indigenous women.”
Palmer’s committee has been charged by the U.S. Department of the Interior to help determine new names for the 18 features, and they want the public to submit some ideas. Palmer says suggestions from Interior tend to miss the mark.
“These proposed replacement names don’t really capture our local history. We end up with names like Columbia, because the Columbia River goes all sorts of places, right? Or Bonneville, or Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And they’re not really names that make sense or preserve our state’s history.”
The committee wants to hear proposals that include traditional place names, Indigenous place names, or names that reflect individual historical women. Palmer says the general public and tribal members are all invited to participate. The deadline for public comment ends on April 25th.
The city council in Klamath Falls, OR recently voted to rename a park, dropping the name of a frontiersman and government agent known for committing atrocities against Native Americans. Councilors unanimously voted to rename Kit Carson Park to Eulalona Park, the Associated Press reports. The park’s new name is after a Native village, which was near the site before the creation of the city.
The city started the name change process last year and solicited names online.
The survey for a new name received nearly 400 responses.
Another First Nation in Canada is preparing to search for unmarked graves at a former residential school.
As Dan Karpenchuk reports, this time it will be in northern Manitoba.
The Pimicikamak Cree Nations has announced plans to search the site of the former St. Joseph’s Residential School. It was operated near Cross Lake by the Roman Catholic Church in northern Manitoba, between 1912 and 1969. The chief of the Pimicikamak Nations is David Monia. He says the reserve has identified the names of 85 children who died at the school. However, he adds that surviving records are incomplete.
“Many of them are listed as boy, as girl, 40% of them have first names only. Where did these kids come from?”
Investigators say they will use ground penetrating radar to search the site, which is now a neighborhood with homes.
“You know they don’t describe it as a school. More like assimilation camps, torture camps, or death camps and really that’s an international crime.”
No start date for the search has yet been determined. It was just over a week ago that the Pope apologized at the Vatican to a Canadian Indigenous delegation, for the role of the Catholic Church in the abuses at Canada’s residential schools. Thousands of Native children were abused at the schools, many died.
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