Interior Department suggests name changes for racial slurs used for Prince of Wales creek and mountain

Screen shot from U.S. Geological Survey interactive map

A creek and a mountain in southern Southeast Alaska are on the Department of Interior’s list of candidates for removing derogatory names.

On Feb. 22, the department released a list of possible replacements for more than 660 place names around the country that contain the word “squaw.”

“Squaw” is a racist and sexist term used against Indigenous women.

In November 2021, Interior secretary Deb Haaland officially declared the word derogatory and has said racist terms have no place on federal lands. Haaland set up a task force to find alternatives and accelerate name changes.

A creek just outside Whale Pass on the northeastern side of Prince of Wales Island is one such candidate. Suggestions for replacements are Ragged Cove, Exchange Cove, or Exchange, West or Thorne Island.

There’s also a nearly 2600-foot mountain on the western side of Dall Island that could be renamed. Possibilities for that are Manhattan Lake, Sakie Bay, Middle Island, Sakie Point or Table Rock.

The Interior Department is seeking public comment on replacement names and consulting with tribes. In total, there are 27 places proposed for renaming on federal land in Alaska.

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