Montana Geographic Names Advisor

Geographic Name Change Request

Change Squaw Peak to Ch-paa-qn Peak
Missoula County and Sanders County, Montana

Status = Approved

Description summit, elevation 2,437 m (7,996 ft), located on the boundary of the Lolo National Forest and the Flathead Indian Reservation, along Reservation Divide, 8 km (5 mi) SE of Blackrock Peak; a Salish word meaning “shining peak”
Location 47°09’28”N, 114°21’18”W
PLSS Location Secs 10&11,T16N,R22W
Proposal to change a name to remove a name considered by so
Proponent Lloyd Irvine, Confederated and Salish Tribes; Pablo, MT
Not Cpaaqn, Skiotah Peak, Squaw Peak.
Administrative area Lolo National Forest and the Flathead Indian Reser
Previous BGN Action Squaw Peak (BGN 1918), Skiotah Peak (BGN 1917)
See also
GNIS ID 791393
Local Usage Cpaaqn (Salish and Kootenai peoples)
Published Squaw Peak (USGS 1959, 1984, USFS 1987, 1997; Missoula County highway map 1973; Sanders County highway map, 1958)
This proposal is to rename Squaw Peak, a 2,437 m (7,996 ft) high summit that lies on the boundary of Missoula County and Sanders County, and also on the boundary between the Lolo National Forest and the Flathead Indian Reservation. The proposed replacement name is Ch-paa-qn Peak, a Salish name that reportedly means “Shining Peak”. The proposal was submitted by the Acting Chair of the Tribal Council of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation, whose members believe the existing name is derogatory. The name Squaw Peak has appeared on Federal maps since 1959 and on County maps since 1958. As early as 1863, Captain John Mullan referred to the summit as Skiotah Peak, and in 1918, that name was made official by the BGN. However, one year later, that decision was reconsidered and the name Squaw Peak was made official. The 1919 BGN workcard indicated that the latter name was applied to the Lolo National Forest map, although the date of that map was not noted.

The proponents report that Čpaaqn is “the historical/aboriginal Salish-Pend d’Oreille place name” for the summit, but they are willing to submit the anglicized form Ch-paa-qn and to add the generic “Peak”. The Montana House Bill 412 Advisory Committee, which was created to address the issue of removing the word “squaw” from the geographic names of Montana, recommends approval of the proposal. The government of Missoula County has also endorsed the change. The government of Sanders County indicated it understood the proponents’ desire to change the name, but expressed some concern that the local population would have difficulty pronouncing the Salish name. They suggested “ch-paa-gn Peak [sic] be the designated name and “Shining Peak” be put in parentheses below. Many tourists/people would find the name ch-paa-gn and interpretation fascinating”. The Montana State Board on Geographic Names, after determining that the State’s Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC)/Water Resources Division has no objection to the change and the DNRC Trust Land Management Division supports the change, has recommended approval of the name Ch-paa-qn Peak. The Coeur d’Alene Tribe, which is Federally-recognized, endorses the change, as does the USDA Forest Service.

Montana Geographic Names Advisor Recommendation - Support
Domestic Names Committee Decision Date - Thursday, March 11, 2004
Domestic Names Committee Discussion - This proposal was submitted by the Tribal Council of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation, to change a name considered by the tribe to be derogatory. The proposed replacement name is of Salish origin, and means “Shining Peak” (see Attachment D, #1). There was some discussion regarding Skiotah Peak, a name that was applied to the feature by Capt. John Mullan in the mid-nineteenth century and that was approved by the Board in 1917 (that decision was overturned by another Board decision in 1918, to name the feature Squaw Peak). The staff was asked to investigate whether there was any present-day local usage of the name Skiotah Peak, as well as any information on the origin of that name and why it was not proposed as the replacement. A motion was made and seconded to approve the change to Ch-paa-qn Peak.

Vote: 9 in favor
0 against
1 abstentions

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