50 spots in Utah with the name “squaw” could soon be renamed

Feb 23, 2022, 12:37 PM
More than 50 places in Utah could be renamed, like Squaw, under an order from the Interior Departme...
A fire up Provo Canyon in the Squaw Peak area made for a different kind of view. Photo by Stuart Johnson. (Deseret News file photo)
(Deseret News file photo)

SALT LAKE CITY — The U.S. Department of the Interior is taking a step forward in removing the name “squaw” from hundreds of federal locations. 

The list includes 50 spots right here in Utah. 

The point behind removing “squaw”

The name is seen as derogatory against Native American women. And Secretary of State Deb Haaland, a Native American woman herself, officially declared it a derogatory term back in November. 

Utah State Sen. Jani Iwamoto, D-Salt Lake City, says she sees this as a positive move.

“Hopefully if the federal government is doing this, they will be changing all the signage and that kind of thing,” Iwamoto said. “That would be welcome news because then the state could handle the rest”

A lawmaker in Utah tried to do the same thing

Iwamoto sponsored a bill last year to make it easier to change the names on state lands. 

“The state one, you have to go through the state Geographic Name Committee. And then once they get the local support and they get their name, they go through that process,” Iwamoto said. “I think now is the time to do it.”

Proposed new names to one location in Weber County to replace “Squaw Flat” include Pine Canyon, Bear River Range, and Frost Canyon. Five replacements have been chosen for each spot, using other surrounding names.

The agency is planning three virtual meetings to consult with tribes next month. They are also asking for written public comments through April 24.

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50 spots in Utah with the name “squaw” could soon be renamed