AGSL Exhibit Examines Replacement of Geographic Names Derogatory of Indigenous Peoples

detail of map of Denali National Park
Detail of map of Denali National Park.

In November 2021, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, the first Native American to serve as a U.S. cabinet Secretary, ordered a task force to find replacement names for valleys, lakes, creeks and other sites on federal lands that included a racist and misogynist slur against Indigenous women.

This September, the Department of the Interior proposed new names for some 660 places in the United States that included the term. The American Geographical Society Library has mounted a pop-up exhibition centered on these replacements, and created a map that locates 28 of those sites in Wisconsin, indicating each with one of its possible new names.

Also displayed are maps of other sites that have had their offensive names recently changed, including Denali (formerly Mount McKinley) in Alaska and First Peoples Mountain (formerly Mount Doane) in Yellowstone National Park. There are maps, as well, of several sites with long-proposed alterations — Mount Evans (proposed: Mount Blue Sky) in Colorado and Mount Rainier (proposed: Tahoma) in Washington state.

Curated by AGSL intern Brendan Dooley, the exhibit celebrates National Native American Heritage Month and runs through November 30.