Fresno Will Sue the State Over “Squaw” Name

Fresno County will sue the State of California over a 2022 law that bans the name “Squaw” from geographic features and place names, starting in 2025.

The word has historically been used as a slur for Indigenous women. Native American groups have pushed to get the term retired for years. 

Indigenous activists won a huge victory when Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland formally declared squaw a derogatory word and established a task force to facilitate its removal from hundreds of sites. California followed with its own bill, AB 2022. 

The Fresno County community formerly known as Squaw Valley was renamed Yokuts Valley by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names this year.

Fresno County supervisors voted 3-2 to initiate legal action over the state's legislation this month. Steve Brandau, Nathan Magsig, and Ernest Mendes voted in favor of legal action. Brian Pacheco and Sal Quintero voted no.

The voting majority said the law usurps local authority and overrides community input. 

Magsig did not take the option of a federal lawsuit off the table, though the county clearly believes the state is the biggest fish to fry. In a video, Mendes compared the federal government’s position to policies under communist dictatorships.

Read more at GV Wire.