PALOS PARK, Ill. (AP) — A suburban Chicago waterway and a western Illinois island have been renamed as part of a new nationwide policy to remove the use by their previous names of a racist term for a Native American woman.
The body of water near Palos Park in Cook County was once called Laughing Squaw Sloughs but is now known as Cherry Hill Woods Sloughs, while the former Squaw Island in Calhoun County has been renamed Calhoun Island.
The two Illinois sites were renamed Sept. 8 and are among nearly 650 geographic features across the country to receive a new name following an order from U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, who is the first Native American to lead a cabinet agency,
Haaland’s order, issued in November, declared the word “squaw” pejorative and created a process for reviewing and replacing geographic place names that use the term.
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Dorene Wiese, a member of the White Earth Ojibwe Nation and president of the American Indian Association of Illinois, said cartoons dating back to the 1800s depicted Native women and used the term “squaw” offensively.
Wiese, 73, hopes removing references to the word in place names will be a step to ensuring that the next generation will not be subject to his offense, or even know the word at all.
“It is our hope, that in the future, this will be erased,” she told the Chicago Grandstand.
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