Sites in Oregon Renamed for Cow Creek Umpqua Culture
In an effort to eradicate a derogatory Native word, the U.S. government has officially renamed more than 600 places across the country. Many of the sites renamed in Oregon are now reflective of Cow Creek Umpqua culture and language.
In the Cow Creek Umpqua seven-county service area (including Douglas, Coos, Josephine, Jackson, Klamath, Deschutes and Lane counties), 31 sites have been renamed by removing the word “squaw.” Three sites were renamed “Takelma,” the ancestral language of the Cow Creek Umpqua people. Two sites, Chief Miwaleta Creek and Dumont Butte, were renamed for the historical Cow Creek Tribal leader and the Dumont ancestral family. Several other sites now incorporate Takelma words, such as Yulúm (Eagle) Ridge in Josephine County, and Téel (Yellow Jacket) Gap in Jackson County. Some sites were renamed with words that are similar to Takelma words, such as Lapam Gulch in Josephine County, which is a phonetic translation of “frog” (lapháam) in Takelma.
Every renamed site previously had the derogatory word as part of its official name. Sites in Oregon renamed with elements of Cow Creek Umpqua culture are:
- Chief Miwaleta Creek in Douglas County (named for Cow Creek Umpqua Tribal leader)
- Dumont Butte in Douglas County (named for Cow Creek Umpqua ancestral family)
- East Fork Takelma Creek in Josephine County (named for Cow Creek Umpqua language Takelma)
- West Fork Takelma Creek in Josephine County (named for Cow Creek Umpqua language Takelma)
- Takelma Creek in Josephine County (named for Cow Creek Umpqua language Takelma)
- Yulúm Ridge in Josephine County (Takelma word yulúm for eagle)
- Téel Creek in Jackson County (Takelma word téel for yellow jacket)
- Right Fork Téel Creek in Jackson County (Takelma word téel for yellow jacket)
- Téel Gap in Jackson County (Takelma word téel for yellow jacket)
- Lapam Gulch in Josephine County (phonetic translation of lapháam for frog)
- Wilámxa Tip in Jackson County (close to Takelma word wiláu for arrow
- Máalsi Tip in Jackson County (close to Takelma word máal for salmon spear shaft)
Across Oregon, a total of 55 sites were renamed. Only Arizona (65), Idaho (70), and California (80) had more sites renamed than Oregon.
“I feel a deep obligation to use my platform to ensure that our public lands and waters are accessible and welcoming. That starts with removing racist and derogatory names that have graced federal locations for far too long,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland. “Together, we are showing why representation matters and charting a path for an inclusive America.”
Previously, the Wik’uuyam Heeta’ newsletter (Cow Creek Tribal newsletter) reported in March on the effort taken on by the Cow Creek Cultural Resources Program to rename Squaw Mountain in Douglas County to Dumont Butte. At the time, that process was paused due to Secretary Haaland creating a task force designed to confront and right derogatory names across the country.
Jesse Jackson, Cow Creek Education Programs Officer said the renaming of location geographic areas is long overdue.
“As we ‘right the wrongs’ of the past, our society becomes more knowledgeable and accepting of other cultures,” he said. “Let us remain hopeful that one day our nation will have geographic names associated with truth and kindness – not perpetuating separation and hate.”
Over 1,000 recommendations on names were received by Haaland’s task force. The group also consulted nearly 70 Tribal governments on name changes.
For a map showing the location of each of the renamed sites, click here to see the U.S. Geological Survey interactive map.
For the complete list of renamed sites in the U.S., click here to visit the U.S. Geological Survey website.