Monday, May 29, 2023

City of Las Cruces Considers Changing Derogatory Street Name


LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — The city of Las Cruces is considering whether to change a street name that contains a word that's used as a slur toward Indigenous women.

Las Cruces Sun-News reports that City Councilor Johana Bencomo recently proposed to change the name of Squaw Mountain Drive.

Last week, U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland formally declared "squaw" a derogatory term and said she was taking steps to remove it from federal government use and to replace other derogatory place names.

Bencomo raised the issue of the street name during a council discussion earlier this month, though she said she first learned of the derogatory name when the council was looking at a zoning issue in the area this past winter.

Since the city initiated the proposed change, the proposal requires agreement from 75 percent of residents that live on or live adjacent to the street.

If fewer than 75 percent agree, officials say the city must wait a year before it suggests a name change again. If enough residents agree, the name change would still be subject to city council approval.

"I know that people will see (the name change) as trivial," Bencomo said. "I know people will say there's more important things to be done. But again, there is something simple about doing the right thing."

Bencomo said she hopes a new name could be created with input from residents on the street and from the local Indigenous community.


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