Interior Seeks Nominations For Committee To Replace Derogatory Geographic Names

The Department of the Interior announced today that it is seeking nominations for members of the new Advisory Committee on Reconciliation in Place Names. The committee will identify geographic names and federal land unit names that are considered derogatory and solicit proposals on replacement names.

On November 19, 2021, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland directed the National Park Service to form the committee as part of a broad effort to review and replace derogatory names of the nation’s geographic features. Secretary Haaland also declared “squaw” to be a derogatory term and instructed the Board on Geographic Names – the federal body tasked with naming geographic places – to implement procedures to remove the term from federal usage.

“Too many of our nation’s lands and waters continue to perpetuate a legacy of oppression. This important advisory committee will be integral to our efforts to identify places with derogatory terms whose expiration dates are long overdue,” said Haaland. “I look forward to broad engagement from Tribes, civil rights scholars and academics, stakeholders, and the general public as we advance our goals of equity and inclusion.”

“The establishment of this committee is a momentous step in making our nation’s public lands and waters more welcoming and open to people of all backgrounds,” said National Park Service Director Chuck Sams. “These committee members, who will reflect the diversity of America, will serve their country in an important way.”

The Committee will consist of no more than 17 discretionary members to be appointed by the Secretary, including:

At least four members of an Indian Tribe;

At least one representative of a Tribal organization;

At least one representative of a Native Hawaiian organization;

At least four people with backgrounds in civil rights or race relations;

At least four people with expertise in anthropology, cultural studies, geography, or history; and

At least three members of the general public.

Nominations must include a resume providing an adequate description of the nominee’s qualifications, including information that would enable the Department to make an informed decision regarding meeting the membership requirements of the committee and contact information. More details on the committee and how to apply are available in the Federal Register.

Nominations for the committee must be submitted to Joshua Winchell, Office of Policy, National Park Service, at joshua_winchell@nps.gov

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