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19 comments

Hmm... But it is pointed in the article that Squaw actually means Woman in Algonquin languages. So if it were put in its original context, it wouldn't be a slur. It is the whites who made it a slur.

So now they're removing the word because they defiled it...? Why wouldn't they work towards giving it its original meaning back?

Cause thing is, for one they're kind of erasing history, and much as I understand why, it's something that must be done with much more consideration than just painting over and making it disappear like they're doing now.

And also these locations are apparently actually named "woman's harbor", "woman's peak", etc. so shouldn't there be an effort to give them some sort of native appreciative or woman appreciative name if they must change it instead of going "olympic" or whatecer.

I am sick to the back teeth and beyond of the settler callback to “oh but that word actually means woman” repeated yet again in this article. I had an entire civil comment on an Ovarit thread deleted when putting this word in historical context in a discussion, heedless of the fact that I was not using to refer to anyone or deploying it in a manner to derogate anyone, especially since I am among the Indigenous women subjected to it as a slur.

There are a few Indigenous languages that have a part of words speaking about women that have a syllable often mistransliterated as that word. They are often referred to as agglutinating languages by many linguists because a whole word is equivalent to a sentence in English or another European-origin language. In many of those languages it is not equivalent to “woman,” it refers specifically to women’s genitalia. I know this because the major Indigenous language my people speak comes from that same subgroup of Indigenous languages. And that is a minority of Indigenous languages in the Americas. We don’t use the equivalent syllable in our language except in its proper context as part of one of those agglutinating sentences, it can’t stand alone.

It would make too much sense to actually put proper translations like “Woman’s Harbour” and so on when they can take another opportunity to impose foreign names and pretend it is better to have no Indigenous names on their maps if they can’t use slurs to name them instead.

Hey, that's interesting. Thank you for telling me. I'm not an anglophone and I had actually never even heard the word until I read the article. All of this sucks so much.

(As a thought, I'm actually not even against naming places after women's genitalia haha (😉) but I doubt the men in charge would like that if it isn't vulgar hahaha!)

Edit : hey, look at the list, it seems a few of these have gotten Native names instead. There's that! https://edits.nationalmap.gov/apps/gaz-domestic/public/all-official-sq-names

Thanks for touching base – it’s an old sore point that word, and then the other lousy things tied to how it is used. One of my dreams is to have the proper Indigenous names everywhere like they are supposed to be, with additional names contributed by other people who have moved here and would like to add to the memories and stories here, not try to delete Indigenous names. Probably a silly dream in this world as things stand!

Please help me understand. I just want to understand your perspective because the article and what googling I have done lead me in one direction and I think you are saying that this is not accurate. So much on the internet turns out to be inaccurate - and often these inaccuracies get repeated again and again.

This is where I am confused about what you wrote - you would agree with the removal of this word?

I also don't understand why they do not rename things as 'Woman's Harbour' or make it an Indigenous name.

I don’t know what google is telling you, as I don’t use it because it is a privacy invading censorship machine.

I thought it was clear in what I wrote that removing the pseudo-word they are removing from some place names is a good thing. They should just rename the places to proper translations, as indeed has been pointed out.

Look up agglutinating languages, you’ll learn all about how sentences in those languages include phonemes that may be misconstrued by people who don’t know the languages as “words” when they are not. The pseudo-word of specific issue here was invented by settlers, and efforts to claim it is now an “English word” and therefore should be considered acceptable is not new, and it has always been a vicious one.

I have had previous unfortunate experiences with people trying to “save” this pseudo-word as supposedly what Indigenous people genuinely used among themselves and therefore okay, which it is not. I am not saying that any Indigenous people used this pseudo-word in our languages. The phoneme cannot stand alone and it is not used in the way the pseudo-word is.

This is true. My paternal grandmother, who died when I was young, was full-blooded Sac and Fox nation. Their language, Mesquakie-Sauk, is Algonquian. According to my dad, she referred to herself as a squaw all her life.

The article does cite the controversy regarding why the word is considered a slur. It is a thought provoking discussion. How does one give an original meaning back to a word that has become a slur? I would think it might take several generations.

The woman heading this initiative is herself a Native American woman. Perhaps she has her own thoughts on this but knows that remedying the situation by trying to reclaim the word would be a lost cause for the foreseeable future.

I agree with you that it is a shame they are not making the new names female focused. Here is the list of the new names: https://edits.nationalmap.gov/apps/gaz-domestic/public/all-official-sq-names

Thanks! Look, some of the new names they've given are actually from Native languages. I'm hoping there was some consultation with the people whose territory this was and made them choose the name? In any case I think it's much better than picking a new English name. Cool!

I didn't realize that word was considered offensive

Neither did I. Would love if a native woman could contextualize this word a bit - I see multiple comments pointing out how this word means woman in some languages.

Do natives use this word between themselves? Is it offensive if a non-native uses it? I just don't know.

The department had said in November of last year that it was beginning a process to do away the word, a term for indigenous women that many Native Americans find offensive. 'I feel a deep obligation to use my platform to ensure that our public lands and waters are accessible and welcoming,' said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American to lead a cabinet agency, in a statement.

[–] Lipsy 6 points Edited

I coulda sworn I'd read about this initiative several years ago, but, mb it really was just last November.

Anws... This is good news. Thanks for posting it!

[–] MissBehaved 0 points Edited

Took them long enough. Imagine naming a place C***t Valley or Mt. Vulva. It's been known as a slur since the late 1800s at the least... maybe earlier I don't know, but many years ago I read an historical account of listed slurs of their time and this was among them. This raised my eyebrows because I'd always heard the term defended as simply what old people used to say and that it had earned its derogatory connotation over time. Not so! Even if it didn't refer to genitalia, using the terms bucks and squaws instead of simply men and women is obviously dehumanising language.