Thu, March 31, 2022

Reconciliation of Derogatory Geographic Names

Deb Haaland, Secretary, Department of the Interior

On March 14, 2022 the Alaska Historical Society sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, commending her effort to replace offensive place names in Alaska, especially those which are derogatory to Alaska Native women.

Secretary Haaland has initiated the Reconciliation of Derogatory Geographic Names process across the country. Twenty-seven places have been identified for Alaska. The Alaska Historical Society stated:

This effort to change these names is a significant step toward removing harmful stereotypes and reducing intolerance while acknowledging the vital contributions of Alaska Native peoples to our state and nation. We believe this renaming process provides an important opportunity for Alaskans and all Americans to think critically about the past, celebrate moments of triumphs and reckon with injustice. In doing so, history promotes understanding and empathy; it expands our vision for change and enriches our public dialogue.

The letter also encouraged the U.S. Board on Geographic Names to consider using the original Native place names in this renaming process. The Native place names “recognize the historical significance of the locations and celebrate the rich cultural diversity of Alaska’s Native peoples.”

The Alaska Historical Society is pleased to support this effort to replace offensive place names. We encourage everyone to submit their own comments, as well.

Public comments are being accepted by the Department of the Interior until April 25, 2002 via the Federal Register website.

See the full letter from the Alaska Historical Society to Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, March 14, 2022.