Squaw Teats*, Harney Peak, and Negrohead Creek*: A Corpus-Linguistic Investigation of Proposals to Change Official US Toponymy to (Dis)honor Indigenous US Americans
- dual naming,
- cultural landscapes,
Copyright (c) 2017 American Name Society
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Each year, the US Government receives hundreds of petitions to alter the official name of a geographical feature. Since the nineteenth century, the US Board on Geographic Names (USBGN) has had the task of assessing these requests with a view toward standardizing the nation’s toponymic inventory. During its decision-making, the Board seeks to maximize consistency in the formation, selection, and application of official toponyms, while minimizing potential public injury. The challenges in this regulatory balancing act are particularly apparent with regard to indigenous place names. Using an original corpus compiled from 10 years of USBGN petitions, this empirical study identified patterns in the type, motivation, and argumentation used to (dis)honor Native American identities, histories, and cultures via names and naming. After introducing the UsBGN's policies and practices, these findings are presented with several illustrative examples. The article ends by contextualizing the findings within the broader PC debate and offering future research suggestions.
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