FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Fresno County community once known as Squaw Valley has a new name.
The U.S. Board on Geographic Names voted on January 12 to change the name to Yokuts Valley.
Yokuts means "people," and it was chosen to honor the land's first inhabitants.
The decision comes after two years of debate surrounding the name of the community, which is home to about 3,500 people.
Many argued the former name is racist and offensive to Native American women, even contributing to their harm.
But those who opposed the name change disagreed and also expressed that any new name should be chosen by people who live in the community, not a board or commission.
Back in November of 2021, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, the first Native American to serve as a cabinet secretary, formally declared "squaw" to be a derogatory term. She ordered the Board on Geographic Names to implement procedures to remove the term from federal usage.
The U.S. Department of Interior says the Fresno County community was among seven "unincorporated populated places" that went through a special review process, which included comments from Tribes, local communities, and stakeholders before a final vote.
Governor Gavin Newsom also signed AB2022 into law in November of 2022, requiring the term "squaw" be removed from all geographic features and place names in the state starting on January 1, 2025.
*Due to the official decision by the Board on Geographic Names, Action News is using the name Yokuts Valley in future coverage, including weather maps and stories.*