Wisconsin Geospatial News

Department of the Interior Completes Removal of Derogatory Toponyms

According to a recent press release, the US Department of the Interior has completed a review and has voted on the final replacement names for nearly 650 derogatory toponyms (place names) across the country. This review and vote focused on one particular derogatory term, a Native American slur.

The decision follows a process that began months ago following the publication of the Department of Interior Secretary’s Order 3404 and the subsequent establishment of the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force. This process is detailed in two earlier SCO news articles, here and here. Nationally, public input to the renaming process included more than 1000 recommendations for name changes, with nearly 70 Tribal governments participating in the discussion.

The new names are immediately effective for federal use, but the federal government will continue to accept name change proposals for these features — as well as any other geographical features — through the normal process involving the US Board on Geographic Names (BGN). In Wisconsin, the Geographic Names Council (GNC) is the body responsible for reviewing proposed name changes before they are forwarded to the BGN. The GNC is administered by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and is comprised of the State Cartographer and designees from the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Administration.

The US Geological Survey has prepared a full list and online map of the new place names across the country.