'Negro' names in Black Hills to be replaced

2013-04-14T06:00:00Z 2013-04-15T07:45:04Z 'Negro' names in Black Hills to be replacedJohn Lee McLaughlin Journal staff Rapid City Journal
April 14, 2013 6:00 am  • 

The "Negro" names in the Black Hills are on their way out.

Five Black Hills geographic features with offensive names will be renamed by the state, and officials are asking for the public's help to come up with more appropriate monikers.

The South Dakota Board on Geographic Names opened a 45-day public comment period Friday to change the names of “Negro Wool Ridge” and “Negro Canyon” near Wind Cave in Custer County.

The board also wants to scrub the names of “Negro Hill” and “Negro Gulch” near Tinton in Lawrence County and “Negro Creek” near Medicine Mountain in Pennington County.

June Hansen, a geographic names board member, said the features were named during a time period inhabited by early African-American settlers.

She said they are among the last in the state to be reviewed. Last week, several geographic features on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation with names like "Squaw Humper" were renamed with Lakota names to get rid of the offensive labels.

For the name “Negro Creek,” Hansen said her research points to a prospector named Jackson, who is thought to have worked along the creek and is buried in its banks. She said little is known of the origin of other features.

The comment period closes June 1. Within the 45-day window, residents are urged to submit new names for the natural features by phone, email or mail.

“We are happy to get comments any way we can get them,” Hansen said.

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names dictates submitted names should center on local history, folklore, events or natural aspects of the area. Hansen said names cannot duplicate other geographic features in South Dakota or nearby states.

Hanson said personal names must be relevant to public interest, commemorating a person or family for historical reasons. A person being honored must have been dead for at least five years. The board will meet June 4 in Pierre to review submissions.

“The plan is we go through (submissions) at that meeting and eliminate the ones that don’t meet the criteria of the U.S. board,” Hansen said. “If we would get no recommendations, the next step is to do more research to come up with a name for the area. So far, that hasn’t happened to us.”

She said the most appropriate name for each feature will then be released to the public for an additional 30-day comment period.

“In essence, we give the public two chances to tell us what the features should be named,” Hansen said.

If the names are uncontested, the South Dakota Board on Geographic Names will submit them to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names for final approval.

Hansen said after new names for the Black Hills locations are submitted for approval, only five offensive natural areas will remain for renaming.

Those areas include “Negro Creek” in Hawkins County, “Big Negro Draw” and “Little Negro Creek” in Jackson County, and “Squaw Lake” and “Moody Squaw Creek” in Marshall County.

The South Dakota board was tasked with renaming 38 racially charged landmarks in 2001. Since then, Hansen said, 20 areas have been renamed.

Hansen said new names for all offensive landmarks on the list are hoped to be submitted for final approval by the end of the year.

Contact John Lee McLaughlin at 394-8421 or john.mclaughlin@rapidcityjournal.com

Copyright 2015 Rapid City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(12) Comments

  1. irished
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    irished - April 20, 2013 1:00 pm
    Whats next? Are you going to stop calling them the "Black Hills". Do we have to change the name of the White Mountains in New Hamshire? How about the Chicargo Blackhawks? Do they have to change that name too??? Ooh ooh, what about the White House? Can we call that the "Black House" now. Bet Obama would love that huh. Too much political correctness these days. Just use the common sense you were born with. It will get you through the day everyday.
  2. delicant
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    delicant - April 18, 2013 10:02 pm
    The people that really make me shake my head are the ones who keep insisting that because negro is the Spanish word for black somehow that makes it ok. Of course it is the Spanish word for black, but if you think that is what is being referenced then I am sorry, you are an idiot

    People are so afraid of the bogey man of political correctness that they have lost all common sense. Changing names that are an embarrassment to this state, whether historical or not, is a GOOD thing. It is not rewriting history. It is fixing mistakes that never should have been made.

  3. Nvda
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    Nvda - April 17, 2013 7:37 pm
    Snowflake and all the others who are so narrow minded and they think the history that is written in their history books are true, maybe you need to really learn your own history...HA! HA! You can't because you have no real history except what you copy from us or what Rickdm thinks we like for our name..Indian..I am not from India nor am an American so to speak..Yes we join to keep our country beside every race of people and yet we still have to suffer through the stupid racism, but if we did the same to a black or white person which is how you still view the world, we are the ones being racists. We aren't afraid of being called Warriors for our people never gave up. We only negotiated treaties that with honor we would try to keep, but the only one that has been kept by the great men that founded this great country of yours when we had a NATION filled with millions of different Native people that were murdered, destroyed, raped, and any other terrible word you would like to use. Where did Hilter get his plan for the Jewish people from the founding fathers and if you really knew your history you would know that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and even Ben Franklin did not believe in God. So when you set back and try to tell us what we like, we just laugh and say how rickdum. Of course, you will find some who say I old school and I like to be mocked and laughed at as a cartoon character. We are a proud people with educations trying to live and enjoy what the great Creator gave us. Leave our land, our mineral rights, our water, and our children alone. Take care of your children, land, air and water alone. Oh, sorry you do not have any or even like the color of your own children so you try to continue take ours. Now change all the stupid names that have pushed on our people. This should have been done long ago. After all, we had already had Nations of people before you came along.

  4. Roger Cornelius
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    Roger Cornelius - April 14, 2013 4:50 pm
    Everywhere you look on today's Rapid City Journal regarding Native Americans you find the same racist spewing their ignorance. Don't you guys ever get tired of your hate and discontent and monumental misinformation?

    For your information Mr. Stewart, American History and Native American in particular needs constant revision. The history books where you learned your hate are more often times wrong then they are right.

    If you are afraid of the truth, so be it.
  5. Bambeano
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    Bambeano - April 14, 2013 2:35 pm
    that is as bad as when West Jr High in Rapid City changed their name from Warriors to Panters or something similar. They changed because the Indians were offended by the Warrior logo....I guess they lost their manhood, and warrior is anybody that stands and fights for what is right, it is not an Indian exclusive name......I wonder when they will start changing names of features that have 'white' in them...would hate to offend the white people....
  6. KJames
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    KJames - April 14, 2013 1:53 pm
  7. Jim Stewart
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    Jim Stewart - April 14, 2013 1:21 pm
    I used to laugh at the Soviet Union and their penchant for revisionist history. Not so much now.
  8. shunkaska
    Report Abuse
    shunkaska - April 14, 2013 11:35 am
    For the Oceti Sakowin, The Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota the final turn came over a $10 and Gratten, Harney was sent in and slaughtered village after village to punish those that had defended their families from Gratten. Everyday in the most sacred place(the Black Hills, it highest point) is named after who the Lakota called the women killer-Harney......is it not time to right this wrong....try to image the wailing wall named after Hitler? Rickdm is does hurt, maybe not you...its sad that those that claim others to be narrowed minded tend to be close minded...
  9. Layne14
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    Layne14 - April 14, 2013 7:47 am
    "Haakon County" instead of Hawkins...
  10. snowflake
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    snowflake - April 14, 2013 7:46 am
    This is just stupid. Negro is simply Spanish for black. What's next, renaming Hermosa and Angostura? Go ahead, just erase history. .
  11. limomike
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    limomike - April 14, 2013 7:19 am
    This is another example of narrowed minded people that we are also electing. I want to see all the Indian names removed as well. The "Negro" is not a word that readily means a bad word.Grow up people
  12. Rickdm
    Report Abuse
    Rickdm - April 14, 2013 7:09 am
    This changing names stuff is dumb. They are not hurting anyone and most are a historically named. Same as with native american (indian)
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