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DOI: More derogatory Native names to be changed

Deb Haaland (File photo)

The Department of the Interior (DOI) continues to advance its project to identify federal land names and geographic feature names that may be considered derogatory to Native Americans, and create recommendations for potential replacement names.

In September 2022 the DOI’s derogatory geographic names task force completed a renaming project that removed the word “squaw” from 650 landmarks and sites located on federal lands and waterways across the U.S. The term is considered an offensive ethnic, racial and sexist slur, particularly toward Native American women.

A lake in Florida’s Marion County – Squaw Pond – was one of the sites renamed. The remote eight-acre lake located in the Ocala National Forest in the north-central area of the state has been renamed Bumblebee Pond. It was the only Florida site identified on the list.

The renaming efforts continue with the DOI’s advisory committee on reconciliation in place names, which held its first public meetings Dec. 7-8, 2022. DOI Secretary Deb Haaland’s (Laguna Pueblo) office announced the members of the committee in August 2022.

“Our nation’s lands and waters should be places to celebrate the outdoors and our shared cultural heritage – not to perpetuate the legacies of oppression,” Haaland said in a Nov. 21, 2022, news release. “The [committee] will accelerate an important process to reconcile derogatory place names. I look forward to listening and learning from this esteemed group.”

According to the DOI, the committee consists of 17 members, representing tribes, tribal organizations and members of the public who have expertise in the fields of civil rights, history, geography and anthropology.

The National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers recently published a report that said the renaming efforts were not about “canceling history.”

“Rather it is an opportunity to provide a more honest accounting of America’s past and a gesture toward healing historic wounds,” the report said.

More information can be found on the National Park Service website at by searching “advisory committee on reconciliation in places names.”

Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at