Feds approve renaming Lake County creek to remove offensive name

A federal board has renamed a Lake County creek to remove its longtime name considered offensive to Native Americans.

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names approved the change in December that officially renamed Squaw Creek to Manitou Creek, although it will take time to replace the creek’s signage and official designation, the Daily Herald reported.

The three-member Manitou Creek Drainage District, whose name was also changed, had solicited support and navigated the federal bureaucracy to have the name of the 15-mile creek changed.

The change will be made in the federal Geographic Names Information System, the nation’s official geographic names repository. County officials also will be asked to formally change the name where it is referenced.


The creek’s old name is used in records dating to 1840, said Patrick Duby, the drainage board president. He said the name change generated strong support.

"More local residents have come to understand that the word ‘squaw’ is an ethnic and sexual slur against Native American women," Duby said.

Manitou refers to the spirit of the stream and the lifeblood of the region’s Indigenous people, according to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names.

Duby said drainage district board member Jim Denomie, who is a citizen of the Bad River Band Chippewa Tribe, was instrumental in educating the board and community about the need for the name change.