LOCAL NEWS

Legislature To Consider Bill To Remove ‘Squaw’ From Utah Landmark Names

Dec 3, 2020, 8:16 PM | Updated: 11:29 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – It’s a commonly used word on mountain peaks, valleys and roads in Utah and a new bill could remove “squaw” from those landmark names.

Ed Naranjo said the word demeans native women and that is what motivated him to start pushing for a name change.

The new bill, called the Place Name Amendments Bill, proposes eliminating “squaw” from the names of more than 50 Utah landmarks.

Ed Naranjo said the change is overdue. The idea for the bill started with a letter inspired by his daughters.

“There’s something going on that’s not right and we need to change that,” said Naranjo, a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute. “It has to stop. This is a new world, a new society and everybody is trying to get along with one another.”

He wrote the letter to his state legislator, Sen. Jani Iwamoto, D-Salt Lake City.

“I basically said the word squaw was derogatory, it was insulting to native women,” Naranjo explained. “A lot of times when people get angry, you know, they’ll say that to us or they will call the males ‘Buck.’ It’s just like using the N-word.”

Iwamoto took Naranjo’s letter to heart and after a process that she said took more than a year, the legislation was produced.

The Place Name Amendments Bill proposes renaming sites like Squaw Peak in Provo, which legend says was named for the wife of a Ute chief who died after falling from a cliff at Rock Canyon around 1850.

“It would have to go through a process with the Utah Committee on Geographic Names, the state’s liaison with the United States Board on Geographic Names, which goes to Congress since many of these sites are on federal land,” Iwamoto said.

In total, Iwamoto said the bill lays the groundwork with federal and local governments to rename 56 sites in Utah, something that will take time.

“We came up with a really good process for the local government to work with Native American tribes in the area through the Utah Division of Indian Affairs. They would put together a template for what needs to be done,” Iwamoto said.

“I don’t know anything about why these mountain peaks and valleys and whatever refer to it as squaw. It’s not a word tribes in Utah use,” Naranjo said.

How the word evolved is under debate, but as early as the 1620s settlers at the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts referred to a native woman as “squa.”

“Over the years it changed. It’s considered a prostitute,” Naranjo explained. “You get that feeling that people don’t care, you know, people just don’t care about Indian women.”

Naranjo said he has his daughters and granddaughters to think about.

“Just the thought of it and someone referring to them as squaw is very upsetting to me,” he said.

According to Iwamoto, the bill received unanimous support at a meeting of the Native American Legislative Liaison Committee in October. 

Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi and Rep. John Curtis are also said to support the bill. It will be considered in the legislative session next month.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

(Karah Brackin/KSL TV)...
Josh Ellis

Woman killed in crash involving semi on Highland Drive

A 74-year-old woman was killed in a crash involving a semi-truck on Highland Drive, according to police.
10 hours ago
(North Davis Fire District)...
Josh Ellis

Davis County home destroyed in early morning fire

Officials with the North Davis Fire District say a West Point home is "a total loss" after a Tuesday morning fire.
10 hours ago
(John Wilson/KSL TV)...
Josh Ellis

Motorcyclist killed in NB I-15 crash in Davis County; lanes reopened

A motorcyclist was killed in a crash that temporarily closed northbound Interstate 15 Tuesday morning.
10 hours ago
The aftermath of the 15 to 20 acre Magna fire. (Credit: Isaiah Salazar)...
Michael Houck

Firefighters battled against two smaller fires Sunday night

While fire crews battled against the Deuel Creek Fire in Centerville, other first responders handled two other blazes Sunday night.
1 day ago
An RV completely burns down on I-16, shutting down southbound traffic. (Credit: UDOT)...
Michael Houck

RV completely burns down on I-15

On Monday afternoon, an RV was engulfed in flames shutting down Interstate 15.
1 day ago
Refugees study for the US citizenship test....
Erin Cox

Rolling the dice for citizenship: Refugees join SLC English program for citizenship application

There’s a unique program here in Utah designed to help refugees and immigrants with their citizenship applications.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Legislature To Consider Bill To Remove ‘Squaw’ From Utah Landmark Names