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Dozens of lakes, streams and other geographical areas in Michigan will now have new names


More than thirty geographic landmarks in Michigan have been given new names this week. That’s after the U.S. Department of the Interior voted to remove the use of a derogatory term against Native Americans for federal lands. (For the purpose of clarity, we will use the word once; squaw)

Seth Sutton Thomas is a professor at Montcalm Community College and a descendent of the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians.

He says the derogatory word means woman in Algonquin. But the meaning of the term shifted when Europeans began to use it in the 1600s.

"It is not a great word, it is definitely a sexually explicit, extremely crude, derogatory term." said Thomas.

Sutton Thomas says he’s glad to finally see the ban on a word that for so long has been used to harm members of his community.

Nearly 650 places across the U.S. have received new names.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community. Michelle is also the voice of WKAR's weekend news programs.