Gavin Newsom Signs Bill Removing ‘Squaw’ from Names, Leaving Squaw Valley in Doubt  


Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill Friday that would remove the word “squaw” from all geographic place names in California, declaring the term to be a “racist and sexist slur” — and leaving the town of Squaw Valley in an uproar. AB 2022 declares: “The term ‘squaw’ is a racist and derogatory term that has historically been used as an offensive ethnic, racial, and sexist slur, particularly for indigenous women.” It says the word must be removed from over 100 names in the state. The bill, signed on the day designated as Native American Day, follows an ongoing effort by the U.S. Department of Interior, under its first Native American secretary, Deb Haaland, to remove the word “squaw” from place names around the country. (Both the state and federal efforts avoid actually spelling out the word “squaw,” using “sw___” instead.) While the move has generally been accepted, it has outraged some people who are attached to the word and do not feel it to be racist or sexist. The town of Squaw Valley, in Fresno County, for example, population 3,511, it outraged at the change. The town’s name has been targeted (successfully) for two years by a local Native American activist, Roman Rain Tree. But residents never had the chance to comment publicly on the proposed change until earlier this month.

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