Montana Geographic Names Advisor

Geographic Name Change Request

Change South Fork Squaw Creek to South Fork Dawussuua Ashkaate
Big Horn County, Montana

Status = Approved

Description stream, 6.4 km (4 mi) long, on the Crow Indian Reservation, heads 10 km (6 mi) NNE of Mission Buttes at 45°31’47”N, 107°35’05”W, flows NE to enter Squaw Creek (proposed Dawussuua Ashkaate)
Location 45°33’11”N, 107°30’55”W
PLSS Location Secs 21,28-31, T3S, R34E and Sec 35, T3S, R33E
Proposal to change a name considered by some to be derogatory
Proponent Carl Venne; Crow Agency, MT
Not South Fork Squaw Creek
Administrative area Crow Indian Reservation
Previous BGN Action South Fork Squaw Creek (BGN 1962)
See also 39501
GNIS ID 776877
Local Usage None found
Published South Fork Squaw Creek (USGS 1960, 1981)
These two proposals were submitted by the Chairman of the Crow Tribe Executive Branch, whose members believe the names Squaw Creek and South Fork Squaw Creek are derogatory and should be changed. Squaw Creek is an 11 km (6.7 mi) long tributary of Reno Canal, while South Fork Squaw Creek is a 6.4 km (4 mi) long tributary of the main stream; both flow entirely within the boundaries of the Crow Indian Reservation. Although the origin of the current names is not known, they have appeared on Federal maps since 1960. In 1962, the BGN approved a proposal by the U.S. Geological Survey to make official the names Squaw Creek and South Fork Squaw Creek in an effort to resolve a discrepancy between the 1954 edition of the Army Map Service 1:250,000-scale map, which had labeled the main stream Onion Creek (the latter name applies in fact to the next stream to the south), and the more recently published larger-scale USGS topographic map, which labeled it Squaw Creek. In researching the issue, the BGN and the USGS confirmed that the stream had been labeled Squaw Creek on a 1939 Bureau of Indian Affairs map, a 1947 Montana Water Resources Survey, and on the 1956 Big Horn County highway map.

The Crow Tribe reports that the newly-proposed name Dawussuua Ashkaate is from the Crow language and translates as “Million Dollar Creek”. The name recognizes the fact that oil was discovered in the area several years ago. Since then, the name Dawussuua Ashkaate has come into local use by tribal members. The Tribe was asked whether an appropriate generic term should be added to the proposed name but responded that it “does not want “Creek” mixed in with the Crow name.” However, they did indicate that if the BGN believes the proposed names would cause confusion, they would be willing to amend the proposals to Million Dollar Creek and South Fork Million Dollar Creek. Letters of support for Dawussuua Ashkaate have been received from the Montana House Bill 412 “Squaw Name Change” Advisory Committee and from State Representative Norma Bixby. The Governor's Office of Indian Affairs also supports the proposals as submitted.

The Montana State Names Authority has suggested the BGN should approve the Crow names, but would be willing to work with the Crow Tribe if the BGN determines that an amendment to the English translation is warranted.

Montana Geographic Names Advisor Recommendation - Support (Monday, August 4, 2008)
Domestic Names Committee Decision Date - Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Domestic Names Committee Discussion - A motion was made and seconded to approve these name changes.

Vote: 10 in favor
0 against
0 abstentions

A question was raised by a member of the audience as to “how does an unpronounceable name serve applied toponomy?”

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