Petition circulating to change name of local park some say is offensive to Native American women

Petition circulating to change name of local park some say is offensive to Native American women

ALLEGHENY CO., Pa. — There is a petition circulating that wants to change the name of a local park because some claim it is offensive.

Squaw Valley Park sits along Fox Chapel Road in O’Hara Township.

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The term “squaw” is considered an ethnic slur. Activists say it is very offensive to Native American women, and they don’t want it used anymore in the Fox Chapel area.

“It’s 2020 and at the time this park was named it was appropriate, but now in this day of age it’s not,” said activist Kayla Portis.

The petition seeks to rename the park, nearby Squaw Run Road and other local landmarks -- citing the word “squaw” is an ethnic and sexual slur aimed at objectifying Native American women.

Portis and another woman who are both part-Native American are spearheading the movement. So far, Portis told Channel 11 there are hundreds of signatures.

But not everyone agrees with the change.

“If a group of people prevail in our system and the name is changed, I will be saddened. I think it will be yet another example of people ignoring history and just doing what’s popular,” said John Culbertson, who visits the park.

It’s the latest racial issue that has been brought up in the Fox Chapel area. A few weeks ago, a video circulated around the school district that showed several white students singing a song with the N-word.

Now, this movement wants to change the name of the park, roads and waterways in the community.

“Any time you want to make a change, people are fearful of change. They feel like you might be taking a part of history, but sometimes new history must be had,” Portis said.

The Fox Chapel borough manager told Channel 11 they always consider requests from their residents. As for O’Hara Township, where the park is located, officials said this issue will be discussed at the next council meeting.

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