California Wants To Ban The Word Squaw

( A California bill to remove the word “squaw” from all location names cleared the legislature last week and now awaits Governor Gavin Newsom’s signature.

The bill was introduced by Assemblyman James Ramos of San Bernadino, the only Native American to be elected to the California assembly. It establishes a process for renaming any location that uses the word “squaw” in its name.

Ramos celebrated the bill’s passage on Twitter, praising the state for banning “the use of the S-word,” which he described as an “offensive racist and sexist term” that originated as a slur against Native American women.

Over one hundred locations in more than 25 California counties use the word “squaw,” including Squaw Valley, Squaw Peak, Squaw Creek, and Squaw Hollow.

However, Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig, whose county includes Native American tribes, said while he didn’t oppose the legislation, he did believe it should have been driven by local communities.

Fresno County includes the Waxahachie Indians who often call themselves the Squaw Valley Tribe or the Squaw Valley Band of Waxahachie. Magsig wonders if this new legislation would require the tribe to change its name as well.

Often, the Squaw names were chosen by the Native Americans in California as a way to honor Native American women.

At the same time, some local Native Americans were instrumental in getting places to change the name without the benefit of state law.

The Lake Tahoe area Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows ski resort last year changed its name to Palisades Tahoe after pressure from local indigenous groups.

The new legislation creates a state committee responsible for choosing new names for the locations if a local governing body fails to change it within six months.

The Biden administration is pursuing a similar effort to eradicate the word “Squaw” from federal locations.

In November 2021, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, a Native American, declared the term “derogatory” and established a committee to find and rename any location on federal lands using the word “Squaw.”