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Offensive names, nursing homes among South Dakota bills

PIERRE, S.D. - Two bills to eliminate offensive name places are on the docket of the South Dakota Legislature.

Gov. Bill Janklow urged the State Affairs Committee to introduce a bill that would change all offensive names in the state and a bill that came through the Senate side will change only the word "Squaw."

Some people around the state may not even know that a creek in their back yard is "Negro Creek," or "Squaw Teat Creek." It also may come as a surprise to many residents just how many creeks, hills or other places carry the offensive names.

In Custer State Park, Grace Coolidge Creek was originally named Squaw Creek. The name change occurred after President Calvin Coolidge made the Black Hills his 1927 Summer White House.

South Dakota is not alone in its attempt to set a course toward eliminating names that could and have offended many people. From Maine to California and points in between, states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and many others have taken steps to strip offensive names from road signs and maps.

"The Legislature finds that certain geographic place names are offensive and insulting to all South Dakota's people, history and heritage," reads HB 1280, requested by the governor.

"These place names should be replaced by names that reflect South Dakota's people, history and heritage without resorting to harmful or offensive stereotypes, names, words or phrases."

The House bill makes it clear that state and local governments will have no choice but to change the names. It also provides substitute names in most cases, but when no name is suggested, the local government will have the option of renaming the place.

Senators Ron Volesky, D-Huron, Richard Hagen, D-Pine Ridge, and Gil Koetzle, D-Sioux Falls, introduced the Senate bill, SB205. Representatives Alice McCoy, R-Rapid City, Jim Bradford, D-Pine Ridge, Frank J. Kloucek, D-Scotland, Gerald D Lange, D-Madison, B.J. Nesselhuf, D-Vermillion ,and Thomas Van Norman, D-Eagle Butte, also signed on.

The Senate version states that the Office of Tribal Governmental Relations will appoint an advisory group that will consult with local agencies and come up with names to replace the word "squaw," wherever it appears.

It is up to state agencies that own or manage public lands to identify places that contain the word squaw and then inform the advisory committee. Municipalities or counties also must notify the advisory committee about any such place name, the Senate bill states.

Nursing homes

House Bill 1259 would allow a nursing home to be located on a reservation, changing the state's long-standing moratorium on creation of new nursing homes. The bill states the nursing facility must not exceed 50 beds and serve a local population that had not been served by such a facility within a 45-mile radius. No more than one nursing home would be allowed on each reservation.

The Senate earlier passed a resolution asking the federal government to provide funds to build nursing care facilities on the reservations.

Tribal identification

Senate Bill 204 would permit use of tribal identification cards in lieu of other identification when applying for a driver's license.

The tribal ID card would be added to a list of identification cards and documents that may be used to obtain a vehicle operator's license or a non-driver state identification card.

Offensive names

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The following are the names of places to be changed in the House version of the offensive names bill. The bill stated that in cases where there were no suggestions, the local government would select a name. When the name is included in the bill, that would be the new name for the place.

Codington County will change Squaw Lake to Serenity Lake

Custer County: Little Squaw Creek and Negro Canyon and Negro Wool Ridge will change, but there are no recommendations.

Fall River County: Squaw Flat will become Hat Creek Flat.

Gregory County: Squaw Creek, Squaw Creek Reservoir will change, but there is no recommendation.

Haakon County: Squaw Creek and Negro Creek will have new names to be selected by the county.

Harding County: Squaw Creek, East Squaw Creek, Squaw Tree Spring and West Squaw Creek would be renamed by the county.

Jackson County: Big Negro Draw and Little Negro Draw would be renamed by the county.

Squaw Creek in Jones County will be changed to Pitan Creek.

Lake County would change the name of Negro Creek. There was no recommendation.

Lawrence County: Squaw Creek would become Sunshine Creek; East Branch of Squaw Creek would be renamed to East Branch of Sunshine Creek; Negro Gulch would become Patriot Gulch, and Negro Hill would become Patriot Hill.

Marshall County: Squaw Hill would be renamed Schultz Hill and Squaw Lake, Schultz Lake.

Meade County: Squaw Butte School, Squaw Butte, Squaw Creek and Negro Creek School would all be changed with no recommendations.

Moody County's Squaw Creek will become Jack Moore Creek.

Pennington County: Squaw Creek becomes Cedar Breaks Creek and Negro Creek will change to Medicine Mountain Creek.

Shannon County: Little Squaw Humper Creek would become Little Red Shirt Creek; Little Squaw Humper Table would change to Little Red Shirt Table; Squaw Humper Creek would become Two Bulls Creek; Squaw Humper Dam will change to Two Bulls Dam, and Squaw Humper Table will be Two Bulls Table.

Stanley County would have to rename Negro Edge Canyon.

Ziebach County: Squaw Teat Butte would become Peaked Butte and Squaw Teat Creek would be called East Rattlesnake Creek.

If no replacement name is provided any name may be suggested by the county or other local government entity or by any interested person. Suggestions would be sent to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Pierre during a 90-day period following the enactment of HB 1280.