Montana Geographic Names Advisor

Geographic Name Change Request

Change Squaw Creek to Indian Woman Creek
Madison County, Montana

Status = Denied

Description stream, 2.4 km (1.5 mi) long, in Beaverhead National Forest; heads at 45º00’41”N, 111º56’03”W, flows W into the Ruby River, 12.6 km (7.8 mi) S of Sheep Mountain, 4.4 km (2.7 mi) SW of Moose Lake
Location 45°00’33”N, 113°57’43”W
PLSS Location Secs 34&35,T9S,R3W
Proposal to change a name considered by some to be derogatory
Proponent Carol Juneau, Browning, MT
Not Squaw Creek
Administrative area Beaverhead National Forest
Previous BGN Action None
See also 38601
GNIS ID 791369
Local Usage None found
Published Squaw Creek (USGS 1988; Madison County highway map)
The Montana House Bill 412 Advisory Committee submitted two proposals to rename two features in Madison County named “Squaw”, a term considered by some to be derogatory. The first proposal is to change the name of Squaw Creek to Indian Woman Creek. The 2.4 km (1.5 mi) long tributary of the Ruby River lies within Beaverhead National Forest. No other streams in the county are named Indian Woman Creek. Another proposal was also submitted by the HB 412 Committee to change the name of Squaw Creek Spring, located at the head of Squaw Creek, to Indian Woman Spring (q.v.).

When asked to comment on the request to change “Squaw” to “Indian Woman,” the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest Supervisor indicated he had found no local support for the proposed change and suggested area residents would prefer a name that would commemorate early pioneer families instead. The name Lott Creek was submitted and placed on Docket 386. This name would honor Mortimer Hewlett Lott (1827-1920) and John S. Lott (?-1910), members of a family that were prominent in the settlement of the Ruby Valley. Mortimer Lott was one of six men who formed the Vigilance Committee, also serving as Probate Judge for the Territory of Montana, Justice of the Peace, County Commissioner, first mayor of Twin Bridges, and President of the Montana Society of Pioneers. John Lott also served on the Vigilance Committee, as well as treasurer and the first auditor of the State of Montana. Mortimer Lott reportedly “sluiced the first gold in Montana in 1862,” and both men helped construct the toll bridges at Twin Bridges. The Lotts later ranched near Twin Bridges, grazing their cattle in the stream that is now proposed to be named in their honor.

The proposal for Lott Creek has the support of two local ranching families and the president of the Warm Springs Stock Association. The House Bill 412 Committee reviewed the counter-proposal but voted to reaffirm its support of Indian Woman Creek.
The Commissioners of Madison County initially rejected the proposal for Indian Woman Creek, stating that the name Squaw Creek was widely used by public land users, historians, and others. They added, “The name Squaw Creek references the drainage and the creeks. Nothing else.” When asked to comment on the subsequent proposal for Lott Creek, the County indicated it still did not wish to change the existing name, but added, “if the majority of input of views prefers Lott Creek and Moltich Spring as replacement names, I will not argue or deny that.” A copy of the proposals was forwarded to the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation of Idaho, a Federally-recognized Tribe, but no response was received, which is presumed to indicate a lack of an opinion on the issue. The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, which serves as the State Names Authority, determined that its Water Resources and Trust Land Management divisions either support or have no objection to the name Lott Creek, and so recommends approval of that name. The U.S. Forest Service also endorses the name Lott Creek.

Montana Geographic Names Advisor Recommendation - Oppose (Thursday, February 10, 2005)
Domestic Names Committee Decision Date - Thursday, March 10, 2005
Domestic Names Committee Discussion - A motion was made and seconded not to approve the change to Indian Woman Creek.

Vote: 6 in favor
2 against
0 abstentions

The negative votes were cast in support of the Montana House Bill 412 Advisory Committee. A motion was then made and seconded to approve the name Lott Creek.

Vote: 6 in favor
2 against
0 abstentions

The negative votes were cast in support of the Montana House Bill 412 Advisory Committee.

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