Last week, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland formally designated a certain word as a derogatory term. The offensive word also happens to be in numerous place names in the US.

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Haaland, herself a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, has vowed to remove the word from federal government use.

Bush Honors Opening of National Museum of the American Indian
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“Racist terms have no place in our vernacular or on our federal lands. Our nation’s lands and waters should be places to celebrate the outdoors and our shared cultural heritage – not to perpetuate the legacies of oppression.”

Cruces City Councilor Johana Bencomo has proposed changing the name of S***w Mountain Drive into…something that doesn’t include a word that is widely considered to be offensive.

Here’s the catch: the proposal requires 75% agreement of residents that live on or live adjacent to the street. Getting 75% of people to agree to change their address might be easier said than done. If fewer than 75% want the change, Las Cruces will have to wait a year before putting it to another vote.

Does anyone else remember when two Las Cruces residents wanted the city to change its official logo? In 2006 a couple of Las Cruces men wanted the city to remove the image of three crosses from the city logo. “Las Cruces” means “the crosses” in Spanish.

The complaint was that the images of the crosses constituted an “establishment of religion” and was thus unconstitutional. The city of Las Cruces and the school district countered that the logos were intended as a “secular symbol rooted in the city’s history”.  After costing the city several thousand dollars, the cases were dismissed by lower courts and the guys who brought the complaint said they ran out of money and gave up. So, the crosses on the logo remain.

It will be interesting to see if the residents on and near S***w Mountain Drive feel that it’s worth it to rid their street of the “S” word.


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