Bill establishing process to remove landmark names offensive to Native Americans sent to Cox for signature

Undated file photo of Squaw Peak, in the mountains to the east of Provo, Utah, as the sun in rising. "Squaw" is a term that is considered derogatory to women in Native American culture.| Photo Aaron Hawkins/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Following its passage in the Utah Senate, a bill to create a process for removing names of landmarks that are viewed as offensive to Native Americans passed in the House on Thursday and was sent to Gov. Spencer Cox for his signature. 

File photo of Shinob Kibe, Washington County, Utah, circa December 2015 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News

Place Name Amendments, also known as SB 10, passed with 62 representatives in favor, nine against and four absent or not voting. Rep. Walt Brooks, R-St. George, and Rep. Brad Last, R-Hurricane, voted in favor of the bill, while Rep. Travis Seegmiller, R-St. George, and Rep. Rex Shipp, R-Cedar City, voted against. Rep. Lowry Snow, R-St. George, did not vote. 

A similar measure, designed to discourage Native American-themed mascots at public schools, failed to get past the state House last Tuesday.

Rep. Christine Watkins, R-Price, sponsored the bill on the House floor and spoke to the House before the vote. 

“This is just a process bill and a good one,” Watkins told representatives. “We will all admit that name changes are not easy to accomplish and the road to get there is unwieldy.”

Prior to this bill, there has been no formal process for changing the names of geographical locations in Utah. The legislation will not require that any names are changed, but it will include community input, tribe involvement and oversight from the Utah Committee on Geographic Names. The bill is not related to school mascots or universities, Watkins said, and merely outlines a process for the name change of any geographical location. 

The House voted to pass the bill without further discussion. It awaits the governor’s signature before becoming a law.

For a complete list of contacts for Southern Utah representatives and senators, click here.

Check out all of St. George News’ coverage of the 2021 Utah Legislature here.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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