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Borough panel to mull use of ‘squaw’ in street, trail names

July 29, 2020 GMT

FOX CHAPEL, Pa. (AP) — A western Pennsylvania borough committee plans to examine use of the word “squaw” in street and trail names after objections to the word as a derogatory term for Native American women.

The Tribune-Review reports that several residents in Allegheny County’s Fox Chapel have requested that local governments replace the word. Councilwoman Mandy Steele said she expects the issue to be discussed at an Aug. 17 meeting.

“In my opinion, where there is consensus among a historically violently oppressed minority group that a word is offensive, legislators should remove it from place names,” she said. “No committees, no community vote, no referendum. Just remove it.”

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Steele has joined others in spearheading the name change on Old Squaw Trail and Squaw Run Road, along with Squaw Run, a stream that winds from the Allegheny River through the Lower Valley. The Squaw Valley Park name has drawn dueling petitions in O’Hara Township.

Fox Chapel council president Andrew Bennett suggested that residents from Squaw Run Road and Squaw Run Road East should serve on the borough’s new committee.

At a township parks and recreation committee meeting last week, more than a dozen people challenged use of the word but others said the issue is being unnecessarily linked to recent protests over racial injustice.

“Are we going to bleep it out of every movie? Remove it from every map?” committee member Joe Jablonski asked. “I feel it’s another move by people hacking away at the history of the township.”

Member Mary Lasher recommended that surveys be sent to homes across the Lower Valley. “I never knew the word was offensive,” she said.