Biden admin to erase derogatory ‘S-word’ from 660 federal land place names across the US

The Department of Interior has declared ‘S----’ as offensive as the ‘N-word’, which was removed from offical federal naming conventions in 1962

Justin Vallejo
New York
Wednesday 23 February 2022 22:15 GMT
‘S---- Mountain in Colorado renamed
‘S---- Mountain in Colorado renamed (Copyright - 2019 The Denver Post, MediaNews Group.)

The Biden administration released a list of replacement names for more than 660 federal sites across the United States named after a derogatory slur for Native Americans.

It follows the Department of Interior’s recent Secretarial Order 3404 that formally declared the term “s----” as offensive as the “N-word”, which was declared derogatory by the department in 1962.

“The time has come to recognize that the term “s----” is no less derogatory than others which have been identified and should also be erased from the National landscape and forever replaced,” the secretarial order said.

The Department of Interior released the 660 candidate names to replace the ‘s----’ for consultation with tribal leaders and the public.

They were chosen by searching nearby geographic features and replacing the derogatory modifier with a nearby replacement.

Colorado’s ‘S---- Mountain’ was renamed Mestaa’ėhehe Mountain
Colorado’s ‘S---- Mountain’ was renamed Mestaa’ėhehe Mountain (Copyright - 2019 The Denver Post, MediaNews Group.)

“For example, ‘Castle Creek’ is the nearest named feature to ‘S---- Mesa”. The first candidate replacement name for the derogatory named feature would be ‘Castle Mesa’,” the DOI’s National Geospatial Program director, Michael Tischler, said in a statement.

While the official DOI order would remove the term from federally owned lands, some states and private companies have already been replacing the word with new modifiers.

California’s S---- Valley Ski Resort changed its name to Palisades Tahoe early last year. The resort is in Olympic Valley, renamed from its original moniker S---- Valley.

‘S---- Valley Ski Resort’ was renamed to Palisades Tahoe
‘S---- Valley Ski Resort’ was renamed to Palisades Tahoe (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

In December, a federal panel approved the renaming of “S---- Mountain” in Colorado to Mestaa’ėhehe Mountain after a 19th century Cheyenne woman who translated between Native American tribes and settlers.

The S-word was derived from the Algonquin language, may once have simply meant “woman.” But over generations, the word morphed into term to disparage Indigenous women, according to the Associated Press.

“A derogatory name that is meant to diminish the sacredness and power of our women is no more,” said Teanna Limpy, director of the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Historic Preservation Office.

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