Words and wardrobe: Haaland removes ‘squaw’ from federal land, and Murkowski critiques NY Times about fashion reporting

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Women in power asserted themselves this week on issues of words and wardrobe.

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland on Friday ordered a ban of the word “squaw,” which is an Algonquin word that simply means “woman,” from all federal lands.

Haaland, as an agent of the federal government, declared “squaw” to be a derogatory term that was inappropriate to use to name geological features. There are more than 650 place names that use the word, such as Squaw Mountain, Squaw Valley, and Squaw Creek. She appointed a task force to find replacement names.

“Racist terms have no place in our vernacular or on our federal lands. 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,” Haaland said in a news release.

“The term has historically been used as an offensive ethnic, racial, and sexist slur, particularly for Indigenous women,” the news release said.

The newly created Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force will include representatives from federal land management agencies, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion experts from the federal agency. The order requires that the task force engage in Tribal consultation and consider public feedback on all proposed name changes.

Secretarial Order 3405 creates a Federal Advisory Committee to broadly solicit, review, and recommend changes to other derogatory geographic and federal land unit names. The Advisory Committee on Reconciliation in Place Names will include representation from Indian tribes, tribal and Native Hawaiian organizations, civil rights, anthropology, and history experts, and members of the general public. It will establish a process to solicit and assist with proposals to the secretary to change derogatory names, and will include engagement with tribes, state and local governments, and the public.

Some states have passed legislation prohibiting the use of the word “squaw” in place names, including Montana, Oregon, Maine, and Minnesota. Squaw Valley Ski Resort officially changed its name to Tahoe Palisades in September.

Meanwhile, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and two other women senators had a letter published in the New York Times on Nov. 20, in which they criticized the newspaper for focusing too much on the wardrobe of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat from Arizona who has some of the more flashy, form-fitting, and colorful attire in Congress. The letter was also signed by Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat senator from New Hampshire and Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine.

Vanessa Friedman, a writer for the New York Times, wrote a defense in 2017 about why writing about the wardrobe of powerful people is of interest. In her column, she wrote:

“Every garment — a tie, a dress, a pair of socks or shoes — is a communication device of varying power and clarity, and we choose how to use those tools to sway those looking at us. After all, since long before Queen Elizabeth I whitened her face and exaggerated her ruff to transform herself into a living myth, leaders have been using clothes to influence opinion. For all of us, what we choose to wear in the morning telegraphs a message about who we are; and for those in the public eye, this effect is simply multiplied a hundredfold (or more).

“Is it sillier to acknowledge the strategy behind appearance, or to pretend such influences don’t exist? It may be embarrassing to recognize that what someone wears can affect your judgment, but it does: leather leggings and sneakers can make a member of the establishment seem accessibly cool; a red tie taps into memories of Morning in America; rolled-up shirt sleeves indicate hard work. At the very least, wardrobe choices can subconsciously make you relate to public figures in a more personal way, which could then tempt you to give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to motivations and policy making — or they may alienate you entirely.

“Barack and Michelle Obama were masters of the sartorial statement, and a wave of politicians who have come since, including Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron and their wives, have learned from the Obamas’ example: strategically abandoning their ties on occasion; daring to wear “Star Wars” socks; promoting homegrown designers. Donald Trump, with his hair and his tan and his devotion to the overlong tie and boxy suit, uses his style to weave a different story. But, in the current White House, it is Melania whose clothes may be the most telling. Not because she is a woman, but because since the election she has rarely spoken, retreating to her penthouse in New York and emerging last week on the global stage in a series of strict, battle-ready outfits.

“It’s not that what she wears matters more than world peace or freedom of the press or trade policy or any piece of legislation — of course not. And The Times covers those issues with dedication. But one kind of analysis does not obviate the other, and can, in fact, elucidate it. We scour her wardrobe for clues as to who she is as a person and how she sees her role; where her values lie and how she will represent the country on the world stage. Where her husband’s (perhaps unstated) priorities lie. The vehicles may be superficial. But they are also broadly accessible, and that makes them powerful. And power is a subject I don’t think any of us would dismiss.

51 COMMENTS

  1. Lisa voted to confirm this wacked-out, radical Interior Secretary. Interestingly, Lisa’s favorite Alaska food is squaw candy. One of my favorites, too.

    • Squaw Candy. That would be lucious, moist, Alaska smoked King salmon on strips, straight from the smokehouse. A favorite among Alaska Natives, especially Native women like myself. Lisa Murkowski…….you are a complete fool and have been had by Democrats. How you ever became an attorney is beyond me.

      • Marla:
        Murkowski became a lawyer after finally passing the Alaska Bar exam. The vast majority of law school graduates pass the Bar exam the first time they take it. But not Murkowski. I believe it took her multiple times. Bot no matter, her high IQ father rescued her from a failing career in the law by appointing her to his U.S. Senate position. Aren’t we blessed!

          • Not passing the Bar Exam is nothing new. Across the nation, the pass rate is about 60% for first timers. Some hang in and take it multiple times at their own expense just to get their attorney licenses. It’s a tough exam. Three years of rigorous law school followed by months of bar exam preparation study and then three grueling days of testing. It’s expensive. I don’t fault Lisa for taking it 5 or 6 times. However, if the rumors are true that she obtained answers, or the questions being asked, PRIOR to the exam, then that’s cheating. Plain and simple. Many law school students didn’t become lawyers, because they couldn’t pass the rigid bar exam unless they cheated. Some US senators got their positions because they couldn’t obtain it the old fashioned way…….earning it through fairness and on their own merit. Lisa has some explaining to do.

          • Mary:
            you are correct. Murkowski has some explaining to do. But she won’t. And with ranked choice voting she is an odds on Favorite to get re- elected.
            That doesn’t change her character however. Nor does it add to her smartness.
            I know something about bar exams and the stats of how many take it multiple times. There has been only one person in Alaska that has taken it more than three times. The research indicates that those who pass the bar first time are more successful than those who have to take it multiple times. Murkowski was an example of that. She was ineffective as a lawyer.
            Had she run for the office instead of having daddy appoint her, she would have lost in a landslide similar to daddy’s result in his second primary when he received only 13% !
            Regrettably, she is not good for Alaska. And worse, we are very likely to be stuck with her for a long time.

          • Joe Miller, a US Army officer who graduated from West Point and Yale Law School, took the Bar Exam once and passed. He also ran against Lisa Murkowski in 2010 and passed, beating Lisa Murkowski handedly in the Republican Primary. But Lisa’s daddy came and rescued her AGAIN, by helping engineer a write-in vote that was run by the Democratic Party of Alaska.
            The turncoat Murkowski Dynasty will end in 2022, make no mistake. Donald Trump is coming to town, with his guillotine, and the Murkowskis will have no place to wear their crowns.

      • Still want to know what Feinstein said to her in the iconic picture from the Kavanaugh hearings, where she had Murky backed against the wall, looking like a deer caught in the headlights! Seems that it was then that Murky took a decided left turn and has voted mostly Damnocrat ever since!

  2. Haaland has not failed to disappoint at every turn. Now that she has solved all the other pressing problems, she has moved on to renaming things to make sure those names do not cause any more pain and suffering in the world. It’s nice to live in such a Eutopia that we have money to spend putting together task forces to scour the nation looking for a word to change.
    I would be ashamed to tell my mother my new job is to look for the word “squaw” and change it to something else, and I am getting paid!!

  3. The Time’s Vanessa Friedman is the perfect example of so many liberal writers these day. They string together a series of sentences that really have no meaning and yet think they are writing something meaningful. Their elite friends proclaim the writers mediocrity as brilliant as they live in their maskless, champagne toasting bubble of self congratulatory ignorance.

  4. I feel so good about this. Why compared to her actions $80 plywood and $5 heating oil are insignificant. It’s so relieving to know that she cares for what is important and that Lisa voted for her.

  5. Be careful what you name your pet cat. There’s an underworked and overpaid Federal Bureaucrat poised to pounce on you!

  6. I never like Squaw anyway, it always sounded and looked like Straw. While Straw always made me think what my childhood horses ate, and I think what is the point of Squaw anyway.

  7. I barely read this idiocy. I lived above the artic circle. The TOPIC is antiquated!!! I refuse to read this. We’re all blessed with a direct connection to what is right and correct. Some idiot has chosen to bring up this s toipic Go back to your cave!!!! I am NOT an activist!!! An illiterate Democrat must have written this crap. Disappear please!!!

  8. I’m woman! Hear me roar!

    I’m squaw! And hear me roar!

    Put yourself in box!

    You want to really? Do that?

    Over language?

  9. What a total waste of our time, effort and money. Haaland needs to be replaced right along with Murkowski! Two idiot women in our midst!

  10. The professional, perpetual victim class strikes again. Seems like the never ending cycle of outrage would become tiring after a while. Instead it’s just tiresome.

  11. Sooooo…………since waterfowl also fall under feral gov jurisdiction and DoI, specifically USF&WS, are we going to solicit suggestions to rename a duck?

    • Steve Cochran, indeed they have! I have in my hand a Bird Identification Guide for Western Alaska given to me by an officer of U.S. F& W just this spring. What we would recognize as an “Old Squaw Duck” has now been magically listed as…. “Long -tailed Duck”.
      BTW, I’ve noticed that Blue Grouse have also undergone a name change. Thankfully the common name for these delicious white meat, tree chickens “Hooters” has missed their purview. I shudder to think of the edicts that name would incite!

  12. It is just so great that Haaland, totally not a Communist, at ALL, is dedicating all her time and energy towards solving all the world’s most important issues…..

  13. I probably missed it, but I don’t recall the signatories to the letter denouncing the Woke stalkers who harassed Sen Sinema in the restroom. Instead they take a stand on completely legitimate coverage of one of the more significant newsmakers lately. They have their priorities all wrong.

  14. Here’s what everyone but commenters here believe the word “squaw” to mean: “The term squaw is considered universally offensive by Indigenous groups in America and the First Nations due to its use for hundreds of years in a derogatory context,[2] and due to usage that demeans Native American women”. And “That curious concept of ‘squaw’, the enslaved, demeaned, voiceless childbearer, existed and exists only in the mind of the non-Native American and is probably a French corruption of the Iroquois word otsiskwa [also spelled ojiskwa] meaning ‘female sexual parts'” – Wikipedia.

    • Evan, we better start banning the term “Squaw ” beyond just place names on maps. In fact, Elton John his bad self wrote a beautiful song “Indian Sunset” a part of his Madman Across the Water album back in ’72. The song represents the thinking of an Indian Brave prior to conflict, and mentions his Squaw. Clearly Haaland and company have a huge task correcting all of the egregious use of the term “Squaw”.
      BTW- If memory serves, Haaland is half Norwegian. Will she also advocate similar measures to apologize for her peoples Rape and Plunder across the British Isle’s including Ireland? I wonder. Her acquiescence to the above proves how silly this all is. I am still waiting for the Turkish Government’s apology for the tormenting my ancestors in Eastern Europe, none yet received.

        • No, it is NOT, Evan. There is always somebody, somewhere, who will object to something. So f%$^ing what? Despite what you wokesters believe, nobody has the right to not be offended.
          .
          Where does this neo-puritanical wokester revisionism ever end? It is simply another insane and evil manifestation of a secular and Marxist religion masquerading as “justice”.

          • Dang Jefferson, you have a knack for blowing things WAY out of proportion. I don’t know what you are so afraid of.

  15. Well isn’t this special. With everything going wrong in the former United States, Biden’s merry band of Bolsheviks worry about this.

    Good to know they are on top of what really matters.

    More and more Princess is babbling about nothing. As usual.

    • Has a boy scout we used to pick up squaw wood. It was the small pencil size wood used for starting a campfire. It was the same wood that native American women used to gather for their fires. There’s nothing wrong with the word. A racist can take a normal word and make it evil. It’s all about control. A group of people saying you can’t do this anymore you can’t say that anymore when they don’t really care they just want to say you can’t do it and have control over you. That’s what it’s all about folks.

  16. My mother is a squaw. We appreciated the team names Redskin, Chiefs, Braves and other team names celebrating the Indian warrior spirit. These names are not offensive and if you imagined they were, you did not think it through. You are probably incapable.
    We will keep the word squaw. We appreciate Captain Cook and mostly anyone who appreciates our great American history. Amazingly idiotic times we are in but I do think it’s temporary because it’s now just comedy. For politicians playing along we can only hope they will be voted out. Vote in November so we can start reversing this nonsensical crap.

    • I’m with you except the Redskins thing. Historically, Redskins was a term that originated from natives skin being stained with blood so they had red skin. I’m not going to support the slaughtering of native Americans and people making fun of them because they were slaughtered in a gory way.

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