Press Release

Sec. Haaland removes slur on public lands

A lush marsh in the foreground, a snowy mountain in the background during sunrise.

Denali National Park & Preserve

Mason Cummings

A historic first step towards intergenerational healing

The Wilderness Society applauds today’s announcement by the U.S. Department of Interior to change the offensive name of hundreds of rivers, mountains, and canyons from an offensive slur against Native American women to names that reflect the local character of each place. This step changes the name of nearly 650 geographic features from California to Connecticut.

Here is a statement by Native Lands Partnership Director Starlyn Miller:

“This is a historic first step towards intergenerational healing while making our public lands more inclusive and welcoming for all people. We thank Secretary Deb Haaland for her leadership and efforts to ensure that this offensive term is erased from the names of our cherished public landscapes. As a Native American woman with a daughter and nieces, I am filled with hope for current and future generations by this action. Yet, more work lies ahead. Offensive and derogatory place names continue to dot our maps and blemish our trailhead signs. There is no room for any offensive, racist, or derogatory place names on public lands. We look forward to the work of the recently appointed advisory committee to facilitate additional name changes of rivers and mountains that don’t reflect today’s values in order to ensure that our public lands celebrate and represent the diversity of our country.”

The National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (NATHPO) and The Wilderness Society produced “A Guide to Changing Racist and Offensive Place Names in the United States.” This free resource aims to make it easier for First Nations, grassroots organizations and local leaders to change the name of offensive place names nearest their communities. Click here to download for free “A Guide to Changing Racist and Offensive Place Names in the United States.”

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