A guide to changing racist and offensive names on public lands

Snowy Denali mountain behind green landscape.

Highlighted in the guide as an example of a successful place renaming effort, this Alaska peak was renamed from Mt. McKinley to Denali, one of the early Athabaskan words for “mountain.”

Daniel A. Leifheit, NPS

Includes resources on community outreach and research

Across the United States, thousands of mountains, rivers, lakes and other features on public lands bear racist and offensive names. From tributes to Confederate leaders, to ethnic and misogynistic slurs, these names perpetuate a violent and oppressive history of colonization and make public lands less welcoming.

To help address this issue, The National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (NATHPO) and The Wilderness Society have co-sponsored a guide that aims to make it easier for First Nations, grassroots organizations, local leaders and the general public to change offensive and derogatory places names on public lands. “A Guide to Changing Racist and Offensive Place Names in the United States” summarizes the scope of the problem, outlines which place names can be changed and provides a step-by-step manual on the renaming process.