Squaw Creek Park Name Change Discussed
The world is undergoing many changes in the name of justice and equality in 2020. Statues of historical figures who some consider controversial are being knocked down and terminology that has long been considered offensive in some circles is being altered. Even certain sports teams are under fire to revamp their names and symbols.
Sentimental history is also important, but a Linn County recreation area may be added to the list of public entities making these changes. Squaw Creek Park in Linn County has been called that for 55 years. It, along with its namesake creek itself, may soon be called something else.
There are growing calls that the name "Squaw" Creek is deemed "derogatory toward Native American women", and also not "welcoming to all", according to Linn County Conservation executive director Daniel Goemaat. According to the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Goemaat says a possible renaming could take place and as far as what that name would be, they've reached out to the Meskwaki and Sac and Fox Tribes in Tama County, who think "Wanatee" would be a good choice.
Jean Adeline Morgan Wanatee was born on the Meskwaki Settlement in Tama and was a historic women's rights activist. Her resume' also includes having worked at Toledo Sanatorium as well as the Sac and Fox Day School, according to Mary Bennett, special collections coordinator at the State Historical Society of Iowa.
In addition to that, according to the Gazette, Wanatee was a Meskwaki language specialist and worked at the Smithsonian, was a member of the Governor's Advisory Committee, and the Iowa Arts Council.
Her list of accolades and achievements is long, and if the Squaw Creek Park renaming were to take place, Goemaat said she'd certainly be near the top of consideration. It was proposed and supported unanimously by the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa, but it has not yet been adopted. In order for it to become official, according to Goemaat, "the county must submit a process for a name change to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names" which reviews such things on a quarterly basis.
Federal boards and localities would review the name change, which Goemaat said could take 6-8 months. The Linn County Conservation board has the final say on whether the name will change in the first place but they wanted to make sure to bring the Meskwaki, Sac & Fox, and other tribes into the discussion. The Gazette reports that for his part, Cedar Rapids Mayor Brad Hart supports taking action on this matter.