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N. Idaho place names changed to remove ‘squaw’

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho (AP) 9-07

The U.S. Board of Geographic Names has approved removing the word “squaw” from eight place names in northern Idaho – three on the Coeur d’Alene Reservation and five outside the reservation but in the tribe’s ancestral territory.

The tribe asked for the changes. The three on the reservation went straight to the federal board, while the five others were first approved by the Idaho Geographic Names Board.

In English, “squaw” refers an American Indian woman, but in various American Indian languages the term is derogatory.

The three changes on the reservation approved last week are all in Kootenai County. The two Squaw Creeks are now Squeatah Creek and Nehchen Creek, while Squaw Hump has been changed to Nehchen Bluff.

Nehchen, also known at Ann Marie Moctelme, was the wife of the last hereditary Coeur d’Alene chief.

Squeatah, who was also known as Mary Massislaw, was an Upper Spokane Indian relocated to the Coeur d’Alene Reservation.

The five other changes included renaming Lake Coeur d’Alene’s Squaw Bay to Neachen Bay, which refers to the one-time hunting method of driving deer into the lake.

Other new names are Steamchet Creek in Kootenai County, and, in Shoshone County, Telichpah Creek, Spotwean Peak, and Lockensuit Spring, The Spokesman-Review reported.

Telichpah was a woman who lived near Avery, “steamchet” means “eldest daughter,” “spotwean” is a matriarch, and “lockensuit” is a sweat lodge.

Jennifer Runyon, research chief for the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, said Shoshone County opposed the changes, and Kootenai County officials were divided.

In October, the Idaho Geographic Names Board will consider renaming two other Squaw Creeks, both in Clearwater County, that could become Seastem (“sister-in-law”) and Teakweh (“aunt”) Creeks.

In Washington state, Spokane County commissioners are scheduled on Tuesday to make a decision about the tribe’s request to change Squaw Creek to Awtskin Creek. Many residents along the creek said they would rather it be called Jack Pine Creek.

Information from: The Spokesman-Review, http://www.spokesmanreview.com

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