It seems that America is finally ready to take another thoughtful step toward removing the stain of racism and misogyny from its history, and well, geography too! The United States DOI (Department of the Interior) recently decided to change the racial and misogynistic names of more than 660 geographical features across the entire country.
The DOI office in the US is led by the US Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland, who is the first-ever Native American to serve as a cabinet secretary. Haaland and her agency announced the sweeping plan to remove all the misogynist and racist slurs from the geographic landscape of the nation. As Haaland officially stated, words matter particularly in making the nation’s waters and public lands welcoming to citizens and people of all backgrounds. She also added that this decision of renaming is a big step forward to remove all derogatory terms with long-overdue expiration dates. Secretary Haaland herself is a 35th generation New Mexican and a member of the Pueblo of the Laguna.
In November 2021, Haaland first announced a secretarial order to remove all offensive phrases from federal lands. She created a Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force especially to identify and survey the federal sites across the nation bearing any derogatory terms. The team was also tasked to come up with a list of new alternative names for those geographical sites, which include lakes, rivers, mountains, remote islands, and many more. The 13-member Task Force is composed of members from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the National Park Service, and several other related government agencies. A minimum of five proposed replacement names are chosen for each geographic site, on which the Task Force members are going to solicit feedback from American tribes and people throughout the country to finalize a name for each one.