LAS CRUCES, NM (AP) – The city of Las Cruces is considering changing a street name that contains a word used as an insult to Indigenous women.
Las Cruces Sun-News reports that Councilor Johana Bencomo recently proposed changing the name of Squaw Mountain Drive.
Last week, US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland officially declared “squaw” a derogatory term and said she was taking steps to remove it from federal government use and replace other derogatory place names.
Bencomo raised the street name issue during a council discussion earlier this month, although she said she first learned of the derogatory name when the council was looking at a zoning issue in the area last winter.
Since the city initiated the proposed change, the proposal requires approval from 75 percent of residents who live on or off the street.
If less than 75 percent agree, the city will have to wait a year before proposing another name change. If enough residents agree, the name change still requires the approval of the city council.
“I know people will see (the name change) as trivial,” said Bencomo. “I know people will say there are more important things to do. But here, too, it is easy to do the right thing. “
Bencomo said she hoped a new name could be created with contributions from local residents on the street and the local indigenous community.