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Florida lake with Native slur renamed

The U.S. Department of Interior, led by Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo), has completed its initiative to rename hundreds of geographic sites across the country. (Image via Facebook)

A lake in Florida’s Marion County has been renamed as one of 650 geographic sites across the U.S. that were put on a U.S. Department of Interior list due to the use of the word “squaw,” which is considered an offensive ethnic, racial and sexist slur, particularly toward Native American women.

Squaw Pond, a 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 landmarks and sites are located on federal lands and waterways.

The Interior Department announced the completion of its renaming project Sept. 8.  Secretary Deb Haaland’s (Laguna Pueblo) office directed a task force to submit new names to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names for approval – a federal body that standardizes U.S. place names. She ordered the National Park Service to go through a similar process.

“I feel a deep obligation to use my platform to ensure that our public lands and waters are accessible and welcoming,” Haaland said in a statement. “That starts with removing racist and derogatory names that have graced federal locations for far too long.”

Google, which relies on third-party data and operates Google Maps, has said the

federal name changes would be reflected on its maps.

Forty states had at least one site or landmark on the list that contained the slur. California and Idaho had the most – 86 and 84, respectively. Some places on the list are better known than Florida’s. For example, Squaw Mountain is an 8,000-foot peak near Provo, Utah, that is commonly known as Squaw Peak and is popular with hikers. It has been renamed Kyhv Peak.

The National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers recently published a report that said the renaming effort was 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. The list of new names can be found on the U.S. Geological Survey website with a map of locations.

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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 damonscott@semtribe.com.
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