(Daily360.com) – The California state government is drawing opposition from one community over their refusal to change the town’s name. California legislators have decreed that any and all town, city and landmark names that have any trace of Native American history must be removed and changed by 2025. One town called Squaw Valley located within the foothills of the Sierra Nevada is punching back.
The local leaders and residents say the state government does not have the authority to force such measures and they are resisting the mandate. California’s bureaucrats have attempted to smear the local leaders as “racist” for wanting to retain the word squaw. They claim the word is not only racist but also a sexist insult directed toward Native women.
Leaders from Fresno, California, are challenging this directive and have sued the state on First Amendment grounds. They say it’s up to local communities and the members therein to decide things like town names, not state lawmakers. Fresno leaders say the meaning of words like squaw have been manipulated over time and they don’t recognize the word to be an insult but instead see it as a tribute to the history of the community. Fresno District Five Supervisor, Nathan Magsig, says this is a “local matter” and not the business of any state agency.
Squaw Valley held a community meeting late in 2022 and women of Native ancestry defended the name and urged the town executives not to change it. These women were nonetheless rebuked by activists who support the name change and derided as supporting racism. According to Magsig, the matter should be settled by an upcoming vote on legislation he wrote titled “Measure B” in which members of the community will vote on whether they support keeping the current name or choosing a new one. Magsig said as long as the people in the community say they do not what the name to change he will fight on their behalf to keep the name.
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