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Offensive words are often used in the names of natural American landmarks. Efforts to change them ar

More than 650 landmarks in the U.S. contain a slur that Native American women say is sexually demeaning. A new movement is trying to replace those names.
More than 650 landmarks in the U.S. contain a slur that Native American women say is sexually demeaning. A new movement is trying to replace those names.

For more than 80 years, the Washington Football team sported a name that Native Americans deemed offensive. But that will no longer be the case starting Feb. 2. They are one of several sports teams reckoning with the long history of discrimination against Native Americans in their imagery and language.

Now, that same movement is set to take on a new word: “squaw.”

The origins of the word are unclear, but indigenous women have widely accepted it to be sexually demeaning as a reference to one’s genitalia.

As Chris La Tray writes in the Guardian, “No Native language claims the word.” But it’s used often in the names of American landmarks (more than 650 places, according to theU.S. Geological Survey).

Last November, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland officially designated the term as derogatory and ordered a federal commission to rename such places. 

But communities are already facing resistance to those proposed changes. How did this word become so prevalent in America’s geography? And who gets to rename a place?

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