Montana Geographic Names Advisor

Geographic Name Change Request

Change Squaw Creek to Pees-thul Creek
Granite County, Montana

Status = Denied

Description stream, 3 km (1.9 mi) long, heads in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, 31 km (19 mi) SW of Philipsburg, just outside the Sapphire Wilderness Study Area, at 46o04’19”N, 113o28’27”W, flows NE into Middle Fork Rock Creek; the word Pees-thul is of Salish origin meaning “cutthroat trout”
Location 46°05’15”N, 113°30’22”W
PLSS Location Secs 19-21,&28, T4N, R15W
Proposal to change a name considered by some to be derogatory
Proponent Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes; Pablo, MT
Not Squaw Creek
Administrative area Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest
Previous BGN Action None
See also 39705
GNIS ID 791377
Local Usage None found
Published Squaw Creek (USGS 1971, 1974, 1993, 1996; SummitPost website)
The name Squaw Creek applies currently to a 3 km (1.9 mi) long stream located in southern Granite County, within the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest and approximately 31 km (19 mi) southwest of Philipsburg. The origin of the stream’s current name has not been determined; the earliest map on which it has been located is the USGS topographic map published in 1971. The first of the two proposed replacement names, Pees-thul Creek, was submitted by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Council, which believes the word “squaw” is offensive and should be changed. The word “Pees-thul” is of Salish origin, and according to the proponents, means “cutthroat trout.” They add, “This creek is one of the uppermost parts of the Rock Creek drainage, famed as one of the best native trout fisheries in the nation.” This proposed change has the support of the Montana House Bill 412 “Squaw Name Change” Advisory Committee, the American Indian Caucus of the Montana State Legislature, and the Montana State Names Authority.

As part of its research, the State Names Authority asked the Granite County Commission to comment on the proposal for Pees-thul Creek. The County Commissioners responded that they believe the Salish name “has no local recognition or significance,” and suggest the English translation Cutthroat Creek would be more appropriate. The U.S. Forest Service has no objection to either replacement name. There are no other geographic features in Montana known to be named “Cutthroat,” and just one, a valley named Cut Throat Coulee in Valley County, with the two-word form.

Montana Geographic Names Advisor Recommendation - Support (Thursday, February 21, 2008)
Domestic Names Committee Decision Date - Thursday, January 8, 2009
Domestic Names Committee Discussion - The members discussed the fact that both names refer to the cutthroat trout and so perhaps it would be more likely that the English word would be accepted and used locally. A motion was made and seconded to approve the change to Cutthroat Creek.

Vote: 10 in favor
4 against
0 abstentions

The negative votes were cast in support of the Montana House Bill 412 Committee and the Montana State Names Authority.

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