October 27, 2011 in Letters, Opinion

S-word offensive, too


The controversy surrounding Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s hunting camp containing a rock that once bore a sign with the n-word is fueling conversation about other places around the country having offensive names. Some feel the “squaw” appellation still in use in hundreds of U.S. places is even more reprehensible.

In the 1970s, some people began to believe the term meant female sex organs. Smithsonian Institution linguistics expert Ives Goddard and most other experts in native languages have stated that this anatomical term, though quite similar to the more common Algonquian word for woman, was largely unknown way back when, and for obvious reasons would have been rarely used even by native speakers.

The word “squaw” still has mostly pejorative connotations in any sense, since there are no similar Indian names for men and boys, and thus demeans Indian women. One doesn’t have to travel far from Spokane to find this deplorable name: Squaw Bay on Lake Coeur d’Alene, Squaw Canyon a little northwest of Davenport, and a canyon, creek and road west of Rosalia bearing the name.

Politically correct or not, you’ll find few American Indians who like the s-word.

Dale Roloff


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