Squaw site names endangered
Capitol Media Services
April 3, 2008


Phx. mountain tops Ariz. list of changes sought

By Howard Fischer

Tucson, Arizona | Published:http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/232657

PHOENIX Gov. Janet Napolitano said Wednesday she's finally ready to fulfill a promise she made five years ago and push to rename various sites around the state with "Squaw" in the name.

Napolitano promised in 2003, in the middle of a fight to rename Squaw Peak in Phoenix to honor fallen Hopi soldier Lori Piestewa, that the move was not simply politics. She said the word "squaw" is considered offensive by some American Indians, and the Phoenix mountain was just the first step.

Five years later, the U.S. Geological Survey lists 79 other sites in Arizona that still have that name, including summits, reservoirs, valleys and streams.

Four years ago, Napolitano's aides dismissed the lack of action on other sites, saying she had been busy with other, higher priorities.

On Wednesday, though, the governor said the decision to do nothing was deliberate.

She acknowledged the fire-storm created by Mario Diaz, at the time one of her top aides, who called the boss of a member of the State Board of Geographic and Historic Names to put pressure on him to vote for the change she wanted.

Although the state board waived its own rule not to name a geographic feature for someone until at least five years after his or her death, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, which also has a five-year rule, refused to go along.

So, from a federal perspective, the mountain is still named Squaw Peak, though that board is finally set to consider the change later this month.

"Once that's behind us, we can look at other naming issues," Napolitano said Wednesday.