Department of the Interior removes “Sq—” from 650 geographical features

The Department of the Interior removed the five-letter word beginning with “sq—,” once used to describe an American Indian woman from nearly 650 geographical features nationwide last week.

In a release from Interior Secretary Deb Halaand, she said she felt a “deep obligation” to use her platform to “ensure public lands and waters are accessible and welcoming,” which starts with “removing racist and derogatory names that have graced federal locations for far too long.”

Minnesota enacted a state law removing the name from most lakes in Minnesota back in the 1990s, but one lake in Minnesota near Pine City will have a federal name change.

Manidoons Zaaga’igan Zhaawanong is the new name for a lake near Pine City.

The Board on Geographic Names voted on the final replacement names, after a months-long effort of a task force including representatives from the Bureau of Indian Affairs; Bureau of Land Management; Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement; National Park Service; Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Civil Rights; Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement; the U.S. Geological Survey; and the Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service.

On-air news announcements indicated two lakes in MN were renamed, but the new Apple Lake near Somerset is actually in Wisconsin.

Larissa Donovan was the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016, through July 2023. She covered all the beats in north-central Minnesota, such as local government, crime, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University. You can follow along with Larissa's live tweets of meetings and events on Twitter!

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