Montana Geographic Names Advisor

Geographic Name Change Request

Change Squaw Creek to Il-mo-to Creek
Meagher County, Montana

Status = Denied

Description stream, 3.4 km (2.1 mi) long, in the Lewis and Clark National Forest, heads at 46°50’45”N, 110°56’17”W, flows SW to join Sheep Creek 69 km (43 mi) NE of Townsend, 82 km (51 mi) SSE of Great Falls; Il-mo-to is the Anglicization of the Salish word for “sheep”
Location 46°49’36”N, 110°58’18”
PLSS Location Secs 4-3, T12N, R6E and Secs 34-35, T13N, R6E
Proposal to change a name considered by some to be derogatory
Proponent Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes; Pablo, MT
Not Squaw Creek
Administrative area Lewis and Clark National Forest
Previous BGN Action None
See also 39704
GNIS ID 791371
Local Usage None found
Published Squaw Creek (USGS 1967, 1984; website)
The name Squaw Creek is applied currently to a 3.4 km (2.1 mi) long stream in northern Meagher County, within Lewis and Clark National Forest and 69 km (43 mi) northeast of Townsend. The origin of the name has not been determined; the earliest map on which it has been located is the 1967 USGS topographic map. The first proposal that the BGN received, from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, would change the name to Il-mo-to Creek, Il-mo-to reportedly being the Anglicization of the Salish word for sheep. The stream flows into Sheep Creek. This proposed change has the support of the Montana State Geographic Names Authority, the Montana House Bill 412 “Squaw Name Change” Advisory Committee, and the American Indian Caucus of the Montana State Legislature.

The second proposal was submitted by the Meagher County Commission in response to the Salish name; the county suggests Cameron Creek would be more appropriate, as it would honor a sheep rancher named Cameron “who homesteaded in that drainage for a time in the early 1900’s. Local residents remember him and his family and have called it the Cameron place for over 100 years.” The County also argues that the Salish name is “not easy to remember [or] pronounce and is proposed by those who live over 200 miles away and out of the county.” As such, they believe “the old, derogatory name will continue to be used.” According to the County, the proposal for Cameron Creek also has the support of the Meagher County Conservation District. The U.S. Forest Service supports the proposal for Cameron Creek. A copy of both proposals was forwarded to the Blackfeet Tribe, the Crow Tribe, the Fort Belknap Indian Community of the Fort Belknap Reservation, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, and the Nez Perce Tribe, all of which are Federally-recognized, but no response was received, which is presumed to indicate a lack of an opinion on the issue.

Montana Geographic Names Advisor Recommendation - Support (Friday, August 8, 2008)
Domestic Names Committee Decision Date - Thursday, August 14, 2008
Domestic Names Committee Discussion - A motion was made and seconded to approve the change to Cameron Creek.

Vote: 9 in favor
1 against
0 abstentions

The negative vote was cast in support of the Montana State Names Authority and in the belief that “Il-mo-to” is not overly difficult to pronounce.

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