Today, the Board on Geographic Names (BGN) voted to officially rename Sq___ Valley, California, to Yokuts Valley. “Yokuts” means “the people,” and honors the land's first inhabitants, its present community, and welcomes future visitors and residents.
“Today’s historic victory represents decades of work led by Indigenous people in Fresno County and across the nation to convey the harm that racist place names inflict on our communities,” said Theodora Simon (Navajo), Indigenous Justice Advocate with the ACLU of Northern California. “For over two hundred years, the stereotype of Indigenous women that the s-word conveys – as unfit mothers, disposable, available to be used and abused by settlers – has been used to excuse violence against them. It also justifies the forced removal of Indigenous children to boarding schools, indentured servitude, and today into the foster care and juvenile justice systems.”
Secretary Deb Haaland said in a press statement released today by the US Department of the Interior, “Words matter, particularly in our work to ensure our nation’s public lands and waters are accessible and welcoming to people of all backgrounds. I am grateful to the members of the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force and the Board on Geographic Names for their efforts to finalize the removal of this harmful word. Together, we are showing why representation matters and charting a path for an inclusive America."