Montana Geographic Names Advisor

Geographic Name Change Request

Change Squaw Pass to Snoo-weh Pass
Fremont County, Idaho and Beaverhead County, Monta

Status = Approved

Description gap, point, in the Targhee National Forest and Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, along the Continental Divide, 10 km (6.2 mi) SW of Henrys Lake, 15 km (9.5 mi) E of Upper Red Rock Lake; the word Snoo-weh is based on the traditional Salish name for the Shoshone people
Location 44°36’22”N, 111°31’29”W
PLSS Location Sec 18&19, T14N, R2E
Proposal to change a name considered by some to be derogatory
Proponent Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes; Pablo, MT
Not Squaw Pass
Administrative area Targhee National Forest, Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest
Previous BGN Action None
See also
GNIS ID 391309
Local Usage None found
Published Squaw Pass (USGS 1988, 1993; SummitPost website)
The name Squaw Pass applies currently to a 2,214 m (7,263 ft) high gap along the boundary between northwestern Fremont County, Idaho, and eastern Beaverhead County, Montana, in the Targhee National Forest and Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, approximately 2.2 km (1.4 mi) northeast of the Centennial Mountains Wilderness Study Area. The origin of the gap’s current name has not been determined; the earliest map on which it has been located is the USGS topographic map published in 1988. According to the proponent, this gap sits “in an area overlapped by the aboriginal territories of the Salish and Shoshone people, [and the proposed name] is “a Salish name for the Shoshone people” and also very “similar to the Shoshone word for ‘the people’.”

This proposed change has the support of the Montana House Bill 412 “Squaw Name Change” Advisory Committee and the American Indian Caucus of the Montana State Legislature. The Beaverhead County Commissioners and the States Names Authorities for both Idaho and Montana all support the change to Snoo-weh Pass. The Fremont County Commissioners were asked on three occasions to comment, but no response was received; the latest correspondence noted that no reply would indicate no opinion and the BGN would proceed with its vote. The U.S. Forest Service recommends approval of the change. The Crow Tribe of Montana, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, the Northwestern Band of Shoshone Nation, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, and the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Reservation were all asked to comment on the proposal. Of these, only the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes responded, with support for the change.

Montana Geographic Names Advisor Recommendation - Support (Tuesday, February 5, 2008)
Domestic Names Committee Decision Date - Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Domestic Names Committee Discussion - A motion was made and seconded to approve this name change.

Vote: 11 in favor
0 against
0 abstentions

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