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Bill that would facilitate name change of Squaw Peak passes Senate committee

Feb 4, 2021, 4:12 PM
Squaw Peak...
FILE: Kyhv Peak, the new name for Squaw peak. (Photo: Stuart Johnson, Deseret News)
(Photo: Stuart Johnson, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah Senate committee passed a bill to make it easier to change place names associated with Native Americans, including Utah County’s Squaw Peak.

If passed by the full legislature, the legislation would allow the Utah Division of Indian Affairs to create an application template for community input before requesting a name change. Once they gather feedback, they could present the application to the Utah Committee on Geographic Names; that group would then bring the request to the federal government. 

Bill targets Squaw Peak in Utah County

Many who testified in favor of the bill said they want to specifically lead to a change of the name Squaw Peak. Residents say the mountain east of Provo honors a Ute woman who fell from a cliff while settlers pursued her. 

Squaw Peak is one of about 50 locations bearing that name in Utah. Proponents of the bill say the name is considered derogatory. 

“Presently, it is still offensive,” said Shayna Snider, who spoke on behalf of the Navajo and Southern Ute tribes. “You would not see any of the local Native American communities use the word ‘squaw’ as a term of endearment for their female relatives.”

The application template provides opportunities for feedback from tribal governments connected to the place name up for review. That way, the tribal governments can give an official response. 

The division may also bring suggested names to the tribal governments for input, before presenting them to the committee. 

Other news from the legislative session: 

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Bill that would facilitate name change of Squaw Peak passes Senate committee