News Coverage

Stay up to date on the latest news about geographic naming in Oregon and throughout the nation.

First Peoples Mountain (center) rises behind Top Notch Peak (foreground), seen from Avalanche Peak. (NPS / Jacob W. Frank)

Yellowstone peak renamed after park cuts ties with explorer Doane

The State
JUNE 09, 2022

By Daniella Segura. Yellowstone’s Mount Doane will be renamed First Peoples Mountain, the national park announced Thursday, June 9. The name change came after a unanimous vote, 15-0, from the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, according to a statement from Yellowstone National Park. The peak was previously named after Gustavus Doane, an explorer who led an attack in 1870 that resulted in the Marias Massacre, killing at least 173 American Indians, the statement said. When considering the name change, Yellowstone reached out to the 27 associated tribes, the release said, and “received no opposition to the change nor concerns.” The renaming of the peak came based on recommendations from the Rocky Mountain Tribal Council, Wyoming Board of Geographic Names and National Park Service, the release said.

People and Nature, June 2022 (cover)

Words are monuments: Patterns in US national park place names perpetuate settler colonial mythologies including white supremacy

People and Nature, British Ecological Society
June, 2022

Ecologists, outdoor professionals and the public work and play in lands with complex histories. Part of decolonizing our professional and recreational practices is to expose settler colonial biases and recognize the histories of colonized lands and the peoples who have stewarded these lands for millennia prior to colonization. To provide a quantitative example of settler colonial biases in a familiar context, we examined the origins of over 2,200 place names in 16 national parks in the United States. All national parks examined have place names that tacitly endorse racist or, more specifically, anti-Indigenous ideologies, thus perpetuating settler colonialism and white supremacy at the system scale for future generations. This examination of place names, name origins and their consequences is an opportunity to make everyday complicity in systemic oppression more visible and to more actively advance decolonizing practices for land and language.

One mountain, named with a racist slur and slated for renaming, is located in Routt County in northern Colorado near the state's border with Utah.  Carol M. Highsmith Archive / Library of Congress

U.S. Will Rename 660 Mountains, Rivers and More to Remove Racist Word

Smithsonian Magazine
March 28, 2022

By Nora McGreevy. The United States Department of the Interior (DOI) proposed a list of new names for more than 660 geographic features across the country last month, the agency announced in a statement. Led by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, the first Native American to serve as cabinet secretary, the February 2022 release of the list marks the next step in a sweeping plan to remove the racist and misogynist slur “squaw” from the national geographic landscape. Hundreds of U.S. geographic sites, including mountains, rivers, lakes, remote islands and more, currently are named using the word, report Neil Vigdor and Christine Hauser for the New York Times. “Words matter, particularly in our work to make our nation’s public lands and waters accessible and welcoming to people of all backgrounds,” said Haaland, per the statement. “Consideration of these replacements is a big step forward in our efforts to remove derogatory terms whose expiration dates are long overdue,” added the secretary, who is a member of the Pueblo of the Laguna and a 35th-generation New Mexican.

Sign for Idiot Creek in the Tillamook Forest. Image courtesy of KGW-TV.

What's in a name? How Idiot Creek in the Tillamook Forest was named

KGW-TV
March 9, 2022

By Devon Haskins. Stretching four-miles long, a fast-moving, but shallow creek runs through the Tillamook State Forest near Highway 6. You wouldn't be considered a fool if you didn't know that Idiot Creek exists. The name of the creek has a history behind it and it comes from a nearby logging camp named Ryan's Camp, but even that camp went by a different name. To trace the history behind the name, it starts almost 90 years ago during one of Oregon's largest wildfires called the Tillamook Burn.

One of Siltcoos Lake’s islands may return to its historical name of “Goat Island” after the Lane County Board of Commissioners passed along an endorsement to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names on March 1. (Photo by Zac Burtt/Siuslaw News)

Commissioners endorse restoring ‘Goat Island’ name

Siuslaw News
March 5, 2022

By Dean Rea of the Highway 58 Herald/For the Siuslaw News. The Lane County Board of Commissioners forwarded the recommended name change for the Siltcoos Lake island on Tuesday to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names for a final decision. The property owners, Henry and Sherry Wells, submitted the proposal along with a petition to restore the island’s name signed by 73 people. The island was named Jernigan when it was acquired by a family with that name. Local sources report that a family once grazed goats on the island located east of Dunes City. The 3,000-acre lake is the largest on the Oregon Coast and is promoted as “one of the prime large-mouth bass lakes in the Pacific Northwest.”