Squaw Peak renaming to Piestewa Peak not done yet ….

( – promoted by navajo)

I received this email from a friend of a friend concerning the official renaming of Squaw Peak in Phoenix to Piestewa Peak .

from the email …

   We have just received word that the U.S. Board on Geographic Names will decide on April 10 whether to keep the derogatory name Squaw Peak , change it to Swilling Peak , or change it to Piestewa Peak .  Up to now the name Piestewa Peak has been official only at the state level because the National Board will not act on changes until five years after a person has died.

   The letter asks for the City of Phoenix ‘s response because “evidence of local use and acceptance is critical to the Board’s deliberations.”  It further states that “since April 2 our (US Board) office has received numerous letters and emails from numerous Phoenix residents, 30 of whom support the change to Piestwea Peak and approximately 75 oppose it.”  Furthermore, “Many who oppose it (Piestewa) claim Squaw Peak is a well established historic name that was never intended to us used as a derogatory term, and they will continue to use the name.”  See attached letter.

   Arizona ‘s Tribes fought for years to get rid of the derogatory name for the peak.  It took Lori Ann Piestewa’s death to finally change it.  To paraphrase  James Nicholson, former member of the President’s Cabinet at a 2005 Piestewa Peak memorial, the peak has already been named, consecrated and made hallow by Lori’s bravery and death, “far above our power to add or detract.” ( Lincoln ‘s Gettysburg Address).

   It is very sickening in this day and age that some people would not respect the American Indian’s feelings or Lori Ann Piestewa’s bravery and blood sacrifice for us all.  It is an affront to the American Indian. American Indians have fought and given their lives for their adopted country in far greater numbers than their population percentage.  It is also an affront to the families of fallen heroes and our veterans.  The mountain stands for all our heroes that did not return from the war, and not to honor a single veteran or fallen hero is an affront to all of them.

Ernest Martinez

Piestewa Memorial Committee

Here’s a bit on Lori Ann Piestewa …

   Piestewa was born and raised in Tuba City, Arizona, a town with more than a 50% unemployment rate, the daughter of Terry Piestewa and Priscilla “Percy” Baca Piestewa.[3][4][5] Lori Piestewa’s father is Hopi and her mother is of Mexican ancestry.[6] photo They met in 1964 and married in November 1968.[7]

   Her family had a long military tradition, with both Piestewa’s father and grandfather having served in the U.S. Army. (Her father was drafted and served in Vietnam in 1965, and returned home in March 1967.)[8] Neighbors described her as, while generally supportive of the army, having joined primarily to provide a secure income for her and her two children, Brandon and Carla Whiterock.

If you can take a minute to lend your support for the renaming of the mountain , here’s the contact information

                    Email:  BGNEXEC@usgs.gov

                           Phone:  703-648-4552

                           Fax:       703-6484549

                           Address:  U.S. Board on Geographic Names

                          U.S. Geological Survey

                             523 National Center

                                             Reston , Virginia 20192-052

please send letters in support of the name change by April 10th.

(thanks to navajo at DKos for suggesting I repost this here !)  

1 Comment

  1.    Please forward to all your email lists. We have just received word that the U.S. Board on Geographic Names will decide on April 10 whether to keep the derogatory name Squaw Peak , change it to Swilling Peak , or change it to Piestewa Peak .  Up to now the name Piestewa Peak has been official only at the state level because the National Board will not act on changes until five years after a person has died.

       The letter asks for the City of Phoenix ‘s response because “evidence of local use and acceptance is critical to the Board’s deliberations.”  It further states that “since April 2 our (US Board) office has received numerous letters and emails from numerous Phoenix residents, 30 of whom support the change to Piestwea Peak and approximately 75 oppose it.”  Furthermore, “Many who oppose it (Piestewa) claim Squaw Peak is a well established historic name that was never intended to us used as a derogatory term, and they will continue to use the name.”  See attached letter.

       Arizona ‘s Tribes fought for years to get rid of the derogatory name for the peak.  It took Lori Ann Piestewa’s death to finally change it.  To paraphrase  James Nicholson, former member of the President’s Cabinet at a 2005 Piestewa Peak memorial, the peak has already been named, consecrated and made hallow by Lori’s bravery and death, “far above our power to add or detract.” ( Lincoln ‘s Gettysburg Address).

       It is very sickening in this day and age that some people would not respect the American Indian’s feelings or Lori Ann Piestewa’s bravery and blood sacrifice for us all.  It is an affront to the American Indian. American Indians have fought and given their lives for their adopted country in far greater numbers than their population percentage.  It is also an affront to the families of fallen heroes and our veterans.  The mountain stands for all our heroes that did not return from the war, and not to honor a single veteran or fallen hero is an affront to all of them.  Here is what must be done:

          1. Immediately send emails, telephone calls, faxes or letters supporting the name     Piestewa Peak to the following:

           Email:  BGNEXEC@usgs.gov
                                   Phone:  703-648-4552
                                   Fax:       703-6484549
                                   Address:  U.S. Board on Geographic Names
                                                     U.S. Geological Survey
                                                     523 National Center
                                                     Reston , Virginia 20192-0523

          2. Send this information to all others on your email list or address book and ask them to act on it immediately.  The Board will act on this Thursday, April 10, 2008!

       The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona and various local Arizona Tribes have already submitted their formal endorsement of Piestewa Peak , requesting that the name also include appropriate reference to the O’odham name of Vainom Do’ag ( Iron Mountain ). ITCA also passed a resolution against the name “Swilling” for the peak, questioning the integrity of Mr. Swilling, and that “the allegation that Mr. Swilling built an irrigation system in the Phoenix valley is an insult to all Tribes as it was the Hohokam peoples that cultivated the Phoenix valley using a complex irrigation system pre-dating European contact.”  Mr. Swilling, furthermore, can hardly be called a role model.

       Lori Ann Piestewa, however, has been an amazing source of pride and a role model for many, and a source of inspiration for people from all walks of life.  Let us fight to protect the name Piestewa Peak .

       Thank you.

       Ernest Martinez
       Piestewa Memorial Committee

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