“The term ‘squaw’ has been meant to be used as a derogatory word or a dehumanizing word for native women.” –Teanna Limpy
On the heels of Squaw Valley Ski Resort in California changing its name to Palisades Tahoe, The Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board voted unanimously on Thursday to get rid of the offensive name of a mountain in Clear Creek County and instead honor a Cheyenne woman named Mestaa’ėhehe.
Mestaa’ėhehe, also known “Owl Woman” lived between 1810 and 1847 and married William Bent, of the family for which Bent’s Fort is named. There she interpreted and smoothed over relations between people.
“She picked up various languages. She was a good negotiator. She coordinated trade. She was basically like a queen of commerce.” –Teanna Limpy
CBS Denver reports several proponents of changing the name provided comments to the board on Thursday morning before the vote and said the word squaw is derogatory toward Indigenous women. The board did receive one email opposing the change, but voted to send the recommended name change to the governor’s office. The governor’s office relay their opinion on the proposal to the US Board of Geographic Names for a final determination.