Wyoming Hamlet Won’t Be Renamed by U.S. Department of Interior
Written by Andrew-Rossi on January 12, 2023
A Wyoming community is one of seven places listed by the U.S. Department of Interior in the ongoing effort to remove derogatory names from national landmarks.
The Department of the Interior today announced the Board on Geographic Names (B.G.N.) has voted on the remaining replacement names featuring the word sq___. In September, the Department announced the final vote for nearly 650 features but completed an additional review for seven locations that are considered unincorporated populated places.
“Words matter, particularly in our work to ensure our nation’s public lands and waters are accessible and welcoming to people of all backgrounds,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “I am grateful to the members of the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force and the Board on Geographic Names for their efforts to finalize the removal of this harmful word. Together, we are showing why representation matters and charting a path for an inclusive America.”
The Jan. 12 vote came after a year-long process to remove a term from federal use that has historically been used as an offensive ethnic, racial and sexist slur, particularly for Indigenous women. Noting that there are unique concerns with renaming populated locations, the B.G.N. sought additional review and comments from Tribes, local communities, and stakeholders before the final vote.
An Albany County community in Medicine Bow National Forest would have received a new name – if it still existed on public land.
Sq___ Place, Wyoming, is listed as a hamlet (an incorporated community) in Albany County. The community is located in the Laramie Mountains, southeast of Casper and northwest of Wheatland. Unfortunately, any additional information – like how many residents the community had – is sparse.
While it would appear the community was located within the boundaries of Medicine Bow National Forest, the Interior Dept. says, “the feature is a locale now listed as privately owned land.” Because of this, the hamlet has been “removed from consideration” for redesignation.
The six other places listed for additional review included:
- Sq___ Harbor, Alaska: Removed from consideration. The feature is a historical area that no longer serves as an unincorporated community.
- Sq___ Hill, California: Name changed to Loybas Hill. Proposed by the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians, the name translates to “Young Lady” and honors the past, present, and future Native women from and living in the area.
- Sq___ Valley, California: The name changed to Yokuts Valley, which was proposed during the public comment period. Yokuts translates to “people.”
- Sq___ Gap, North Dakota: Name changed to Homesteaders Gap, which was selected by the community in the populated area as relevant to their local history.
- Sq___berry, Tennessee.: Name changed to Partridgeberry, another common name for the plant for which the community is currently named.
- Sq___ Mountain, Texas: Name changed to Lynn Creek in honor of Isaac Lynn, who lived on the creek nearby that bears his name.
Several national landmarks were renamed in 2022 to end a legacy of derogatory terms in the United States.
On June 9, 2022, Yellowstone National Park announced that Mount Doane had been renamed “First Peoples Mountain.” The announcement followed a “15-0” vote affirming the name change and approval by the B.G.N. Doane led an 1870 attack on a band of “Piegan Blackfeet.” In what is now known as the “Marias Massacre,” at least “173 American Indians were killed.”
In September 2022, 41 Wyoming landmarks were redesignated to remove the word “sq___” from mountains, creeks, and valleys. Over 650 landmarks were officially renamed in the same month, almost entirely removing the derogatory term from the United States.
The list of all new names will be updated on the U.S. Geological Survey website to reflect today’s vote, along with a map of locations.
While the new names are immediately effective for federal use, the public may continue to propose name changes for any features through the regular B.G.N. process.
Secretary’s Order 3404 considered only the sq___ derogatory term in its scope. Secretary’s Order 3405 created a Federal Advisory Committee for the Department to formally receive advice from the public regarding additional derogatory terms, derogatory terms on federal land units, and the process for derogatory name reconciliation. In August, the Department announced the members of the Federal Advisory Committee and held its first meeting in December. More information about the meeting and contact information can be found online on the National Park Service’s website.