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Feds remove 'squaw' from names of eight Northeast Wisconsin locations

Squaw Lake in Outagamie County is now Lake Jerome, April 2022. (WLUK)
Squaw Lake in Outagamie County is now Lake Jerome, April 2022. (WLUK)
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(WLUK) – The names of more than two dozen state locations, including several in Northeast Wisconsin, have been changed because they've been declared “derogatory” by the federal Department of the Interior.

On Thursday, the department announced the Board on Geographic Names voted on the final replacement names for nearly 650 U.S. geographic features featuring the word “squaw."

This includes lakes, creeks and an island in Northeast Wisconsin.

The name changes in our area are:

Outagamie County

  • Squaw Lake is now Lake Jerome

Door County

  • Squaw Island is now Keyes Island

Marinette County

  • Squaw Lake is now Makwa lake
  • Squaw Creek is now Ten Creek

Oconto County

  • Little Squaw Lake to Marl Lake
  • Squaw Lake to Messenger Lake

Menominee County

  • Squaw Creek to Neopit Creek

Waushara County

  • Squaw Lake to Shikaakwa Lake

Last year, DOI Secretary Deb Haaland signed Secretarial Order 3404, declaring “squaw” a derogatory term and implemented procedures to remove the word from use on federal geographic features and lands, including establishing a task force.

“I feel a deep obligation to use my platform to ensure that our public lands and waters are accessible and welcoming. That starts with removing racist and derogatory names that have graced federal locations for far too long,” said Secretary Haaland. “I am grateful to the members of the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force and the Board on Geographic Names for their efforts to prioritize this important work. Together, we are showing why representation matters and charting a path for an inclusive America.”

During the public comment period, the survey received more than 1,000 recommendations for name changes and nearly 70 Tribal governments participated in nation-to-nation consultation.

While the new names are immediately effective for federal use, the public may continue to propose name changes for any features — including those announced today — through the regular BGN process.

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Historically, other derogatory words, including the N-word and a pejorative for “Japanese,” have been identified by past secretaries or the federal Board of Geographic Names and eliminated their use, the state notes.

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