New law will remove the word ‘squaw’ from California place names
California is about to get a new name to go with the other place names in the state: Squaw Peak.
The state Legislature approved this year’s budget bill with the inclusion of a provision that will formally erase the use of the word “squaw” that has been in the San Gabriel Mountains since the 1960s. Instead, the law will be rewritten as “Squaw Peak.”
The change is the latest example of a trend at the Legislature, which this year is looking to make changes to existing laws even when the proposed changes are not favored by either party in the legislative chambers.
The word squaw has been used to describe Mount Diablo since the late 1800s, when it was a popular resort town and part of the then-new state. It was renamed to the more descriptive Mount Diablo in the 1970s.
The new law, approved this year by Assemblyman Ed Chau (D-Concord), goes further than just changing the name of the peak from “Mount Diablo” to Squaw Peak, which would be the first use of “squaw” in state law. It also deletes the word “mountain” from the name of the area, leaving it as “Mount Diablo State Park.”
“I don’t think people understood how important this was,” said Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana), a co-author of the legislation, during a September meeting with reporters.
“I don’t think they realize how much the word mountain means to me,” he said. “I used to live on the mountain. To me, the word mountain is just beautiful.”
The change is based on a similar effort in 2005, when the Legislature passed SB1-2005,