Nearly 650 features were changed for federal use in September following first BGN vote
Date: Thursday, January 12, 2023
WASHINGTON — The Department of the Interior today announced the Board on Geographic Names (BGN) has voted on the remaining replacement names featuring the word sq___. In September, the Department announced the final vote for nearly 650 features, but completed an additional review for seven locations that are considered unincorporated populated places.
“Words matter, particularly in our work to ensure our nation’s public lands and waters are accessible and welcoming to people of all backgrounds,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “I am grateful to the members of the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force and the Board on Geographic Names for their efforts to finalize the removal of this harmful word. Together, we are showing why representation matters and charting a path for an inclusive America.”
Today’s vote came after a year-long process to remove a term from federal use that has historically been used as an offensive ethnic, racial and sexist slur, particularly for Indigenous women. Noting that there are unique concerns with renaming populated locations, the BGN sought additional review and comments from Tribes, local communities and stakeholders before the final vote.
The seven places for additional review included:
The list of all new names will be updated on the U.S. Geological Survey website to reflect today’s vote along with a map of locations. While the new names are immediately effective for federal use, the public may continue to propose name changes for any features through the regular BGN process.
Secretary's Order 3404 considered only the sq___ derogatory term in its scope. Secretary’s Order 3405 created a Federal Advisory Committee for the Department to formally receive advice from the public regarding additional derogatory terms, derogatory terms on federal land units, and the process for derogatory name reconciliation. In August, the Department announced the members of the Federal Advisory Committee and held its first meeting in December. More information about the meeting and contact information can be found online on the National Park Service’s website.