An open letter to the Fresno County Board of Supervisors


February 16, 2020

We, the members of the San Joaquin Valley Democratic Club, support the removal of the word “squaw” from all geographic features in America, consistent with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Haaland’s proclamation—a process that would include all members of the afflicted communities—and allow them to select a new name.

We believe that this change is necessary to help end the intergenerational trauma in Native American communities associated with this word.  And when we look at the vision and guiding principles of the Fresno County Board of Supervisors—“Working together for a quality of life for all,” and “Respecting and embracing ethnic and cultural diversity”—it is clear that these principles must preclude permitting a community name which is synonymous with such a pejorative term.

We ask that you champion the spirit that Fresno County proclaims itself to be, that is, respectful to all members of its community.  We hope that you will join us in acknowledging that “Squaw Valley” is not appropriate for a geographical name in Fresno County, nor is it consistent with the vision and guiding principles of the Fresno County Board of Supervisors.

Our request to the Board of Supervisors is simple:  Host a community meeting to discuss this issue.  Thus far, Fresno County Supervisor, Nathan Magsig has prevented the County Administrative Officer from including this topic as an agenda item.  Subsequently to this decision, the Rename S-Valley Coalition held a virtual meeting due to COVID restrictions, to discuss this issue. District 5 Supervisor, Magsig, did not approve of this meeting and  yet he suggested instead, that the onus for hosting an in-person meeting to discuss the renaming of places within his district should lie with the Rename S-Valley Coalition—his constituents.  We believe that it is the responsibility of Fresno County’s elected representative, to initiate such a meeting.

A community meeting to discuss the history and meaning of this pejorative name, will help the residents of this county gain awareness of the role of violence against indigenous women.  The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Movement (MMIWM) is growing in the U.S.   Changing the defamatory and degrading term for this valley will help our community recognize that such names are offensive and give cover to the violence against women that Native American women have experienced for too many years.  Raising awareness and changing names are only the beginning; recognizing MMIW on May 5, as a National Awareness Day is also a good place to start.

Will the Fresno County Board of Supervisors demonstrate leadership and heed the calls of thousands of Fresno County residents and those impacted by this name facilitate a meeting in S-Valley that can accommodate restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 virus and its variants? Will you place it as an agenda item on a future Board of Supervisors meeting? Will you host a special Fresno County Board of Supervisors meeting in the evening to discuss the above question?

We respectfully encourage the Board of Supervisors to follow through with these actions,


The membership of the San Joaquin Valley Democratic Club

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.