Seven creeks and lakes in Iowa and Minnesota are among the nearly 650 places nationwide undergoing name changes at the direction of the Department of the Interior.

The department is eliminating all references to 'squaw' from locations.

The term originally translated to 'woman' from the Algonquin language, but over time became a racist term for Native American females.

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In a press release, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American cabinet secretary, said:

'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'.

In all, six Iowa Creeks are being renamed (new name):

  • Beeds Creek -  Franklin County
  • Red Rock Creek - Jasper County
  • West Creek - Clarke County/Warren County
  • Sun Valley Creek - Ringgold County
  • Prairie Rose Creek - Shelby County
  • South West Creek - Clarke County

One Minnesota lake is also being renamed (new name):

  • Manidoons Zaaga’igan Zhaawanor - Pine County

No South Dakota locations are on the list.

The name change decisions were made at the recommendation of the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force established by Secretary’s Order 3404, which included representatives from the Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, National Park Service, Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Civil Rights, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, and the U.S. Geological Survey and the Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service.

This is the third time the Department of the Interior has ordered the renaming of places carrying a derogatory term. The first instances came in 1962 for African-Americans and later in 1974 for the Japanese.

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