Montana Geographic Names Advisor

Geographic Name Change Request

Change Squaw Creek to Skl-ow-kin Creek
Beaverhead County, Montana

Status = Approved

Description stream, 1.3 km (0.8 mi) long, located on land administered by the Bureau of Land Management; heads at 44°55’13”N, 112°33’26”W, flows S to enter West Fork Long Creek; the name is Salish for “Beaverhead”
Location 44°54’33”N, 112°33’24”W
PLSS Location Sec 3, T11S, R8W and Sec 35, T10S, R8W
Proposal to change a name considered by some to be derogatory
Proponent Carol Juneau; Browning, MT
Not Squaw Creek
Administrative area Bureau of Land Management
Previous BGN Action None
See also
GNIS ID 777121
Local Usage None found
Published Squaw Creek (USGS 1965)
This proposal was submitted by the Chair of the Montana House Bill 412 Advisory Committee, to rename Squaw Creek in Beaverhead County. The existing name, which has appeared on U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps since 1965, is considered by some to be derogatory. The proposed replacement name, Skl-ow-kin Creek, is the Salish name for “Beaverhead.”

The Beaverhead County Commissioners have indicated they support this proposal, as do the Montana Board on Geographic Names and the Bureau of Land Management. A copy of the proposal was sent to the following Federally-recognized Tribes: the Bishop Paiute Tribe, the Death Valley Timbi-sha Shoshone Band of California, the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe of the Duckwater Reservation, the Ely Shoshone Tribe of Nevada, the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribes of the Fort McDermitt Indian Reservation, the Lac Vieux Desert Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, the Northwestern Band of Shoshone Nation, the Paiute-Shoshone Indians of the Lone Pine Community of the Lone Pine Reservation, the Shoshone Tribe of the Wind River Reservation, and the Te-Moak Tribe of the Western Shoshone Indians of Nevada. Of these, only the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe responded, with a letter of support for the name change. The lack of response from the other organizations is presumed to indicate a lack of an opinion on the issue.

A decision on this proposal was deferred at the June 2007 meeting, citing concerns regarding the use of hyphens in indigenous names. Since then, the staff has uncovered additional information on the topic; at its February 2004 meeting, the DNC considered two proposals with hyphens. The meeting minutes state, “After further research and input from Dr. William Bright, noted toponymist and linguist, it has been suggested that hyphens should not be prohibited from such names. The note regarding hyphens in indigenous names will be struck from the PPP chapter on Editorial Guidelines and Writing Marks.”

Also since the June meeting, the BGN received a new online proposal “to change the name of Squaw Creek to Skl-ow-kin Creek.” The application form was submitted by a Consultant with the Salish-Pend d’Oreille Culture Committee on behalf of the Chairman of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. The proposal appears to provide the same information offered in the initial application, but does include names of additional individuals and groups which support the proposed change. In addition to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the new proposal states that the change is supported by “the American Indian Caucus of the Montana state legislature, comprised of Senators and Representatives from six of Montana’s seven reservations, including the Blackfeet Reservation (Sen. Carol Juneau and Rep. Shannon Augare), the Crow Reservation Sen. Gerald Pease and Rep. Veronica Small-Eastman), the Fort Peck Reservation (Sen. Frank Smith and Rep. Margarett Campbell), the Northern Cheyenne Reservation Rep. Norma Bixby), the Flathead Reservation (Rep. Joey Jayne), and the Rocky Boy Reservation (Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy), as well as Rep. Douglas Cordier of Columbia Falls.”

Montana Geographic Names Advisor Recommendation - Support (Wednesday, November 16, 2005)
Domestic Names Committee Decision Date - Thursday, July 12, 2007
Domestic Names Committee Discussion - A motion was made to approve this change.

Vote: 10 in favor
0 against
0 abstentions

June 12, 2007:
A motion was made and seconded to defer a decision on this issue, pending a clarification of the need for the hyphens in the proposed name. The current edition of the BGN’s Principles, Policies, and Procedures (PPP) states, “Hyphens are generally not to be used to separate syllables in Native American names.” The members were asked to let the staff know if they can recommend any individuals who could speak to this issue.

Vote: 9 in favor
0 against
0 abstentions

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