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Using the occasion of the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) announced on Tuesday, August 9,  the names of the members of the Advisory Committee on Reconciliation in Place Names, a federal advisory group to help identify and recommend changes to derogatory terms still in use for places throughout the country.

The Advisory Committee is the result of Sec.Haaland’s  Secretary’s Order 3405 she issued last November. The committee is tasked “to broadly solicit, review and recommend changes to derogatory geographic and federal land unit names. Committee tasks will include developing a process to solicit and assist with proposals to the Secretary to identify and change derogatory names and will engage with Tribes, the Native Hawaiian Community, state and local governments, and the public."

A separate federal task force (the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force) was established by Secretary’s Order 3404 to focus exclusively on the “sq-word,” a derogatory term in use more than 650 instances within federal land units alone.

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"Our nation’s lands and waters should be places to celebrate the outdoors and our shared cultural heritage – not to perpetuate the legacies of oppression,” Secretary Haaland said in a statement issued by the Interior Department “The Advisory Committee on Reconciliation in Place Names will accelerate an important process to reconcile derogatory place names. I look forward to listening and learning from this esteemed group.”

The Committee is composed of individuals who represent tribes and tribal organizations, Native Hawaiian organizations, the general public, or have expertise in fields including civil rights, history, geography and anthropology. The Committee also includes four ex officio members representing the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Defense and Commerce. 

The Advisory Committee on Reconciliation in Place Names is composed of up to 17 members appointed by the Secretary who represent Tribes and Tribal organizations, Native Hawaiian organizations, the general public, or have expertise in fields including civil rights, history, geography, and anthropology:

  • Derek Alderman – Professor of Geography, University of Tennessee
  • Angelo Baca – Assistant Professor, Department of History, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences, Rhode Island School of Design (Diné/Hopi)
  • Kiana Carlson – J.D. candidate, Mitchell Hamline School of Law (Ahtna Kohtaene, Taltsiine; Native Village of Cantwell, Alaska)
  • Julie Dye – Board Member, Eliminating Racism & Creating/Celebrating Equity (Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians)
  • Michael Catches Enemy – Tribal Archaeologist, Oglala Sioux Tribe Fifth Member’s Office (Oglala Sioux)
  • Donald Lee Fixico – Professor of History and Indian Studies, Arizona State University (Sac & Fox, Shawnee, Mvskoke, Seminole)
  • Christine Karpchuk-Johnson – Lecturer, Departments of Anthropology and Geography, University of Nevada Reno
  • Niniaukapealiʻi Kawaihae – Special Assistant, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands
  • Jason MacCannell – Special Assistant to the Director, California Department of Parks and Recreation
  • Kamanaʻolana Mills – Senior Supervising Project Manager, Sustainable Industry Development, Kamehameha Schools, Hawaiʻi
  • Lauren Monroe Jr. – Secretary, Blackfeet Tribal Business Council (Blackfeet Nation, Pikuni)
  • Federico Mosqueda – Coordinator of the Arapaho Language and Culture Program (Arapaho)
  • Rachel Pereira – Vice President of Equity and Inclusion at St. John's University
  • Kimberly Probolus-Cedroni – Historian, Washington D.C
  • Howard Dale Valandra – Member, Tribal Land Enterprise Board of Directors (Rosebud Sioux Tribe)
  • Aimee Villarreal – Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Texas State University
  • Elva Yanez – Senior Advisor for Parks, Land Use, and the Built Environment at the Prevention Institute

The Committee also includes four ex officio members from the federal government. An all-of-government approach will be invaluable as this work is undertaken:

  • Charles Bowery, Executive Director, U.S. Army Center of Military History, Department of Defense
  • Meryl Harrell, Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Elizabeth (Liz) Klein, Senior Counselor to the Secretary, Department of the Interior
  • Letise LaFeir, Senior Advisor, Office of the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, Department of Commerce

Members will meet for the first time in the coming months, and approximately two to four times per year, to identify geographic names and federal land unit names that are considered derogatory and solicit proposals on replacement names. 

Committee meetings will be open to the public and announced in the Federal Register at least 15 days in advance. 

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