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Deschutes County Renaming "Offensive" Streets

Last month, Deschutes County required the SROA to change the name of Squaw Mountain Lane here in Sunriver to Diamond Peak Lane because the word Squaw is considered offensive. Because of this, we have to change a pile of internal paperwork and have to change our Web site because we rent two homes on that street (and I'm sure we're not the only ones out here in this boat).

Really, the word isn't as offensive as people would like to think (though it can be used offensively, but so could a lot of words), but thanks to a very vocal minority, it's been deemed offensive. I've yet to see Squaw Valley, Big Squaw Mountain, or Squaw Creek change their names. Heck, the Squaw Creek up by Sisters, Oregon, is in the County's jurisdiction, is it not (Update on 8/9: It maybe National Forest territory, I'm still looking into it)? Are they going to change the name of that Road, Creek, Cemetary, and other things, too? That area is full of history. I'm sure the County is full of stuff like this.

But really, it's just going to be a mess if we keep this up. Just looking at the names of some of the lanes here in Sunriver, are they going to rename "Indian" lane? Are they going to rename "Foursome" lane because it could have sexual connotations? Are they going to rename "Killdeer" because it promotes violence to animals? "Salishan" was named after Native American tribes, too. I'm sure "Stag" could be taken a bunch of ways. What if I'm a Mets fan, can I be offended by "Yankee Mt."? I know we're stretching it a bit here, but you see my point: Anything can be offensive if viewed in the right light.

And now it's only going to get worse. On Monday's Deschutes County work session agenda is the proposal to change Hooter Road to Snowberry Lane. Last I checked, the "Hooter" referred to the owl, not the woman's breasts. Heck, even at the Hooter's Restaurant, their mascot is an owl, not a big boob (granted, it's their girls that sell the food, not the owl, but that's another story entirely, and here's the company's word on that debate). I'm all for removing horribly racist, sexist and bigotist names, but it's all gone overboard. Unfortunately all it takes is one very vocal person to make a difference -- and anger everybody else in the process.

I'm aware of the negative connotation of the "S" word, and believe it should be changed, too, but I think the mass name changing around the area (and nation) has brought more attention to the word that wouldn't have been there otherwise. Most folks I've talked to thought it meant just a native American woman, not a reference to her genitals. The name changes have probably brought more publicity (and possibly more use by ill-mannered folks) of the word, now that they know what it means.

Thanks Barney for the tip.

Update on 8/9: Looks like they changed Hooter, but for a decent reason.

Posted by Jake on 08/08/04 @ 01:51 PM
Posted in Local, Stupid | Permalink

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