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Deb Haaland
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. Photo: U.S. Department of the Interior
Native leaders join national panel to address derogatory place names
Tuesday, August 16, 2022

American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian leaders have been named to the Advisory Committee on Reconciliation in Place Names, a national panel that will address derogatory place names.

The members of the panel will identify and recommend changes to offensive place names across the nation. The group reports to the Department of the Interior, the federal agency with the most trust and treaty responsibilities in Indian Country.

“Our nation’s lands and waters should be places to celebrate the outdoors and our shared cultural heritage – not to perpetuate the legacies of oppression,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, who is the first Native person to lead the agency. “The Advisory Committee on Reconciliation in Place Names will accelerate an important process to reconcile derogatory place names. I look forward to listening and learning from this esteemed group.”

Haaland announced the 17 members of the committee in a news release on August 9. About half of the panel come from Native communities. Their names are underlined below:

  • Derek Alderman – Professor of Geography, University of Tennessee
  • Angelo Baca – Assistant Professor, Department of History, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences, Rhode Island School of Design (Diné/Hopi)
  • Kiana Carlson – J.D. candidate, Mitchell Hamline School of Law (Ahtna Kohtaene, Taltsiine; Native Village of Cantwell, Alaska)
  • Julie Dye – Board Member, Eliminating Racism & Creating/Celebrating Equity (Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians)
  • Michael Catches Enemy – Tribal Archaeologist, Oglala Sioux Tribe Fifth Member’s Office (Oglala Sioux)
  • Donald Lee Fixico – Professor of History and Indian Studies, Arizona State University (Sac & Fox, Shawnee, Mvskoke, Seminole)
  • Christine Karpchuk-Johnson – Lecturer, Departments of Anthropology and Geography, University of Nevada Reno
  • Niniaukapealiʻi Kawaihae – Special Assistant, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands
  • Jason MacCannell – Special Assistant to the Director, California Department of Parks and Recreation
  • Kamanaʻolana Mills – Senior Supervising Project Manager, Sustainable Industry Development, Kamehameha Schools, Hawaiʻi
  • Lauren Monroe Jr. – Secretary, Blackfeet Tribal Business Council (Blackfeet Nation, Pikuni)
  • Federico Mosqueda – Coordinator of the Arapaho Language and Culture Program (Arapaho)
  • Rachel Pereira – Vice President of Equity and Inclusion at St. John’s University
  • Kimberly Probolus-Cedroni – Historian, Washington D.C.
  • Howard Dale Valandra – Member, Tribal Land Enterprise Board of Directors (Rosebud Sioux Tribe)
  • Aimee Villarreal – Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Texas State University
  • Elva Yanez – Senior Advisor for Parks, Land Use, and the Built Environment at the Prevention Institute

According to the news release, the Advisory Committee on Reconciliation in Place Names will hold its first meeting sometime in the “coming months.” The group plans to meet about two to four times a year.

Notices of the committee’s meetings will be published in advance in the Federal Register, the official journal of the U.S. government.

The Secretarial Order that established the panel calls for tribal input on replacement names.

In addition to creating the committee, Haaland established the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force of government employees within the Department of the Interior. The group is working with the Board on Geographic Names to remove “squaw” from place names across the country.

Relevant Documents
Secretarial Order 3404 – Declaring “Squaw” a Derogatory Term and Implementing Procedures to Remove the Term from Federal Usage (November 19, 2021)
Secretarial Order 3405 – Addressing Derogatory Geographic Names (November 19, 2021)

Related Stories
Cronkite News: Tribes consulted about offensive place names (March 29, 2022)
Nominations open for new Advisory Committee on Reconciliation in Place Names (January 7, 2022)
Secretary Haaland takes action against racist and derogatory place names (November 19, 2021)