Montana Geographic Names Advisor

Geographic Name Change Request

Change North Fork Squaw Creek to North Fork Sheh-shoo-tum Creek
Madison County, Montana

Status = Denied

Description stream, 4.3 km (2.7 mi) long, heads in Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest/Lee Metcalf Wilderness at 44°57’37”N, 111°29’25”W, flows SW to enter Squaw Creek (proposed to be renamed Sheh-shoo-tum Creek), 4.8 km (3 mi) ESE of Sun Ranch, 14 km (9 mi) N of the community of Cliff Lake; the word Sheh-shoo-tum is the Anglicization of the Salish word for little girl
Location 44°56’49”N, 111°31’38”W
PLSS Location Secs 35,36,&25, T10S, R1E, and unsurveyed area
Proposal to change a name considered by some to be derogatory
Proponent Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes; Pablo, MT
Not North Fork Squaw Creek
Administrative area Beaverhead-Deerlodge/Lee Metcalf Wilderness
Previous BGN Action North Fork Squaw Creek (BGN 1988)
See also 39502, 39503, 39506, 39507, 39609, 39614, 39621
GNIS ID 788254
Local Usage None found
Published North Fork Squaw Creek (USGS 1972, 1988, 1993, 1997, 2002; USFS 1970; DeLorme Mapping Montana Atlas & Gazetteer, 1994; SummitPost website)
The name Squaw Creek applies currently to a 13 km (8 mi) long stream that heads in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest/Lee Metcalf Wilderness. Three of its tributaries are named in association with the primary stream. The proponent, a resident of Ennis, believes the current name should be changed because many people find the tem “Squaw” offensive (he has previously submitted two other “Squaw” name change proposals to the BGN, both of which were approved). The name Squaw Creek has appeared on USGS topographic maps since at least 1950 and was the subject of a 1988 BGN decision. The 1988 proposal was submitted by the USGS Mapping Center in an effort to determine the correct course of the stream; the 1:250,000-scale map of the area mistakenly applied the name Middle Fork Squaw Creek to the stream that was later proven to be the main course of Squaw Creek. The first four proposals that the BGN received were to change the primary stream’s name to Sun Creek and its three tributaries accordingly. These names were submitted by a district ranger on the Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest, who suggests they would recognize the stream’s proximity to “a prehistoric glyph in the shape of the sun on an area north of the [main] creek.” This glyph is in association with teepee rings and bison run lines. This feature of arranged stone is approximately 7 feet in diameter with four radiating lines of rock from the southeast to the southwest. This feature, as evidenced by lichen growing on the rock is prehistoric in nature and appears to represent the sun. It seems appropriate to rename Squaw Creek with another name with Native American significance.” The proponent reports that this name change has the support of a local landowner/rancher, a Madison County Commissioner, and a retired forest ranger (who coincidentally was listed as one of the individuals who verified the name Squaw Creek at the time of the 1988 decision). The Madison County Commissioners and the U.S. Forest Service are in support of the proposals for Sun Creek.

There are two other streams in Montana named Sun Creek, one in Ravalli County, 195 km (121 mi) away, and the other in Judith Basin County, 273 km (170 mi) away. There are fifteen other geographic features in Madison County with names that include the word “Sun”, although only one uses just the one word (Sun Ranch). The remainder are named “Sunbeam,” “Sunlight,” “Sunrise,” or “Sunset.” None of these are streams.

Several months after receiving the Sun Creek proposals, the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) submitted its list of 25 Squaw name changes, including four for Squaw Creek and its tributaries. According to the CSKT, “Sheh-shoo-tum” is the Anglicization of the Salish word for “little girl.” These proposed changes have 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.

A copy of the eight proposals was forwarded to the Crow Tribe, the Eastern Shoshone Tribe of the Wind River Reservation, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, the Northwestern Band of Shoshone Nation, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Indian Reservation, the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Reservation, and the Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians of Nevada, all of which are Federally recognized. No response was received, which is presumed to indicate a lack of an opinion.

Montana Geographic Names Advisor Recommendation - Support
Domestic Names Committee Decision Date - Thursday, June 12, 2008
Domestic Names Committee Discussion - A motion was made and seconded to approve the proposals to change the names of the four streams to Sun Creek, Middle Fork Sun Creek, North Fork Sun Creek, and South Fork Sun Creek.

Vote: 5 in favor
2 against
0 abstentions

The negative votes were cast in support of the Montana State Geographic Names Authority and the Montana House Bill 412 “Squaw Name Change” Committee, which had endorsed the proposed Salish names.

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