One lake each in Wisconsin and Minnesota have received new names to eradicate an offensive slur used for Native America women. The Department of the Interior led the effort to officially rename nearly 650 place names across the country.
“I feel a deep obligation to use my platform to ensure that our public lands and waters are accessible and welcoming. That starts with removing racist and derogatory names that have graced federal locations for far too long,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. “I am grateful to the members of the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force and the Board on Geographic Names for their efforts to prioritize this important work. Together, we are showing why representation matters and charting a path for an inclusive America.”
The effort began earlier this year, and included a request for public input on possible new names.
In Pine County, Minnesota, at the guidance of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, a small lake has been renamed as Manidoons Zaaga’igan Zhaawanong, which means “Little Spirit Lake of the South” or “South Bug Lake” in the Ojibwe language. The Band reports that it submitted 31 suggestions for new names across the eastern United States, 11 of which were accepted. Manidoons Zaaga’igan Zhaawanong was the only name accepted in Minnesota.
In St. Croix County, Wisconsin, a lake near Star Prairie was given the name Apple Lake, based on its location near the Apple River.