Montana Geographic Names Advisor

Geographic Name Change Request

Change Squaw Peak to Whe-lha-kleh-tseen Mountain
Ravalli County, Montana

Status = Approved

Description summit, elevation 2,030 m (6,660 ft), located in the Bitterroot National Forest, 50 km (31 mi) SSE of Missoula, 21 km (13 mi) E of Victor; the word Whe-lha-kleh-tseen is an Anglicization of the Salish-Pend d’Oreille name for the Salish head chief, Chief Victor, who signed the Hellgate Treaty with U. S. officials in 1855
Location 46°26’04”N, 113°53’03”W
PLSS Location Sec 20, T8N, R18W
Proposal to change a name considered by some to be derogatory
Proponent Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes; Pablo, MT
Not Squaw Peak
Administrative area Bitterroot National Forest
Previous BGN Action None
See also
GNIS ID 791392
Local Usage None found
Published Squaw Peak (USGS 1976, 1977, 1993; DeLorme Mapping Montana Atlas & Gazetteer, 1994; SummitPost website)
The name Squaw Peak is applied currently to a 2,030 m (6,660 ft) summit in eastern Ravalli County, 50 km (31 mi) south-southeast of Missoula and in the Bitterroot National Forest. The origin of the existing name has not been determined; the earliest map on which it has been located is the USGS topographic map published in 1976. The proposal to change the name to Whe-lha-kleh-tseen Mountain was submitted by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Council, in an effort to eliminate the word “squaw” from the placenames of Montana. The proposed name is reported to be the Anglicized rendition of the Salish name for the Salish head chief, Chief Victor, who signed the Hellgate Treaty with U. S. officials in 1855. The proponent notes that Chief Victor’s Salish name means “Many Horses.”

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. However, the Ravalli County Commissioners do not endorse the name; they did not provide a reason for their objections nor did they offer a counter-proposal. The U.S. Forest Service has no objection to the proposal, while the Montana State Names Authority is in support of it.

Montana Geographic Names Advisor Recommendation - Support
Domestic Names Committee Decision Date - Thursday, January 8, 2009
Domestic Names Committee Discussion - A motion was made and seconded to approve this name change.

Vote: 14 in favor
0 against
0 abstentions

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