Montana Geographic Names Advisor

Geographic Name Change Request

Change Squaw Creek to Little Wolf Creek
Powder River County, Montana

Status = Denied

Description stream, 3.2 km (2 mi) long, heads at 45°42’06”N, 105°40’55”W, flows NNW to join Spring Creek 7.6 km (4.7 mi) W of Coalwood, 7 km (4.4 mi) NE of Sandefer Butte; named in honor of Little Wolf, the Cheyenne chief who led his people back to their homeland from Oklahoma
Location 5°43’41”N, 105°41’19”W
PLSS Location Secs 28&33, T1S, R49E
Proposal to change a name considered by some to be derogatory
Proponent Robert Hagedorn; Volborg, MT
Not Squaw Creek
Administrative area none
Previous BGN Action none
See also 40103
GNIS ID 1689990
Local Usage None found
Published Squaw Creek (Montana State Engineer’s Office/Water Resources Survey, 1961; Powder River County Listings and maps of streams lakes, reservoirs, dams, ditches canals, schools and churches)
Two proposals were submitted as replacement names for Squaw Creek, a 2-mile-long stream in Powder River County. The name Squaw Creek does not appear on any USGS topographic maps but is listed in GNIS, having been compiled from a 1961 Montana State Engineer’s Office Water Resources Survey.

The first proposal, for Two Moons Creek, was submitted in response to efforts by the Montana House Bill 412 “Squaw Name Change” Committee to remove the word “Squaw” from Montana’s place names. The Committee submitted the name Two Moons Creek on behalf of the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Council. The name is intended to honor the nineteenth century Cheyenne leader Two Moons, who according to the Tribal Council’s Resolution, “was a major player in the shaping of the west and U.S. Indian Policy through battles of historic proportion” and “[who] managed to remain in our northern homeland while many of our Northern Cheyenne were sent to Oklahoma during the late 1870s.”

As part of its research, the Montana State Names Authority contacted the Powder River County Commissioners for an opinion. The County responded that it would not be opposed to Two Moons Creek provided the landowner had no objection. The SNA then contacted the landowner, who responded that he would prefer that the stream be named Little Wolf Creek.

Little Wolf (1820-1904) was a nineteenth century Cheyenne leader who led his people back to their homeland from Oklahoma during the Trail of Tears. The proponent believes his proposal should be considered “for all the reasons” that Two Moons Creek is considered. He noted also that Little Wolf was an ancestor of his wife, who is a member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe. The proponent is a local resident who reports that the headwaters of the stream flow through his property.

Citing the landowner’s preference, the County voted to endorse the counter-proposal for Little Wolf Creek. Citing a requirement set forth in the Montana Code that State agencies use those names endorsed by the HB 412 Committee, the Montana State Names Authority recommends approval of the name Two Moons Creek.

In addition to the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, the BGN staff forwarded a copy of both proposals to the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of the Cheyenne River Reservation, the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe of the Crow Creek Reservation, the Crow Tribe of Montana, the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe of the Lower Brule Reservation, the Oglala Sioux Tribe of the Pine Ridge Reservation, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of the Rosebud Indian Reservation, the Santee Sioux Nation, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North & South Dakota, and the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation, all of which are Federally recognized. No response was received, which is presumed to indicate a lack of an opinion on the issue.

Comments Received by the Montana Geographic Names Advisor
Montana Geographic Names Advisor Recommendation - Oppose (Tuesday, August 2, 2011)
Domestic Names Committee Decision Date - Thursday, October 27, 2011
Domestic Names Committee Discussion - A motion was made and seconded to approve Two Moons Creek, citing the recommendation of the State Names Authority which supported the proposal submitted by the Montana HB 412 “Squaw Name Change” Committee.

Vote: 8 in favor
3 against
0 abstentions

The negative votes were cast in the belief that the landowner’s support for Little Wolf Creek warranted approval of that name.

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