Tribes See Name on Oregon Maps as Being Out of Bounds

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tags: Native Americans, Oregon, squaw



Grant County, a mountainous patch of eastern Oregon, has few Native Americans, but maps point to a different past, marking a spring, a rock, three meadows and several creeks with “squaw” in their names.

Calling the term offensive, nearby tribes have asked for name changes, and state law is on their side. But what may seem like a simple matter has turned into a dispute with the county’s white leaders that has dragged on for years, and may have years to go. Oregon and many other states have learned the hard way that erasing objectionable place names is slow and difficult at best, risks opening old wounds, and can divide people along racial lines over what is offensive and whose history the names should reflect.

“I really didn’t think it would be this hard,” said Teara Farrow Ferman, manager of cultural resource programs for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. “I didn’t think that we would still be disputing this after so much time.”




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