Gov. Newsom signs bill to remove 'Squaw' across California

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ByNico Payne via KFSN logo
Saturday, September 24, 2022
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Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a bill that will remove the term "squaw" across the state.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Assembly Bill 2022 was one of several bills signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday to support California Native communities.

AB 2022 would ban the word "squaw" from being used in California places. This comes after the U.S. Department of the Interior voted on final replacement names for nearly 650 features that use the word across the country.

"That word is not indigenous to any language west of the Mississippi River, no California tribal language and certainly in Fresno County," says Local advocate Roman Rain Tree. "This is not something they would have spoken as part of their language."

Federal renaming only applies to the Squaw Valley Basin, excluding the community of Squaw Valley for now, as the interior department plans on seeking input from communities before making any final decisions.

"What's been lacking really over the course of the last two years is hearing from the community," says Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig. "I've been asking for individuals that have been interested in this name change to start first in the community and listen to residents."

Magsig says he doesn't agree with forcing a change without listening to Squaw Valley residents who will be impacted directly.

Magsig says AB 2022 will affect about 80 different place names in the state. He says residents at a Squaw Valley community meeting held on Tuesday were outraged that no one asked for their input.

Local advocates called Friday a new day in America as they were anticipating the signing and they say moving forward, they hope they can choose names that are inclusive to all residents and visitors.