Montana Geographic Names Advisor

Geographic Name Change Request

Change Squaw Coulee to In-poo-poo-neh Coulee
Judith Basin County and Fergus County, Montana

Status = Denied

Description valley, 17 km (11 mi) long, heads at 47o06’27”N, 109o59’41”W, 17 km (10 mi) NNE of Moccasin, 37 km (23 mi) NW of Lewistown; the word In-poo-poo-neh is of Salish origin meaning “place of the big sagebrush”
Location 47°12’08”N, 109°52’17”W
PLSS Location Tps16-17N, R15E
Proposal to change a name considered by some to be derogatory
Proponent Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes; Pablo, MT
Not Squaw Coulee
Administrative area None
Previous BGN Action None
See also 39703
GNIS ID 777119
Local Usage None found
Published Squaw Coulee (USGS 1970, 1974, 1991; DeLorme Montana Atlas & Gazetteer, 1994; SummitPost website; Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks Prairie Streams Survey, 2005; Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks Project Performance Report; The Newberry Library Inventory of Virgil J. Vogel Research and Personal Papers, 1941-1993)
The name Squaw Coulee applies currently to a 17 km (11 mi) long valley in eastern Judith Basin County and western Fergus County, approximately 17 km (10 mi) north-northeast of Moccasin. The origin of the name has not been determined; the earliest map on which it has been located is the 1970 USGS topographic map.

The first proposal, for In-poo-poo-neh Coulee, was submitted by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes; the name is of the Salish and Pend d’Oreille origin and means “place of big sagebrush.” The second proposal was submitted by the Judith Basin County Commissioners in response to a request for comments on the Salish name. The County Commissioners state they are not opposed to renaming the valley, but suggest In-poo-poo-neh Coulee “would not be appropriate for this area.” The Montana State Names Authority recommends approval of In-poo-poo-neh Coulee. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the Chair of the House Bill 412 Committee were advised of the counter-proposal, but declined to offer any further comment.

According to GNIS, there are 12 other features in Montana named “Sagebrush,” including another valley named Sagebrush Coulee in Liberty County, approximately 158 km (98 mi) from the valley in question. There is a dam in Fergus County, 97 km (60 mi) from the valley in question, named Sagebrush Number 3 Dam.

Montana Geographic Names Advisor Recommendation - Support (Thursday, February 21, 2008)
Domestic Names Committee Decision Date - Thursday, May 8, 2008
Domestic Names Committee Discussion - A motion was made and seconded to approve the change to Big Sagebrush Coulee.

Vote: 8 in favor
3 against
0 abstentions

The negative votes were cast in support of the recommendation of the State Names Authority.

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