The US Department of the Interior announced Thursday that it has given new names to five places that previously included a racist term for a Native American woman.

The renamed sites are in California, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas, completing a year-long process to remove the historically offensive word «squaw» from geographic names across the country.

«Words matter, particularly in our work to ensure our nation’s public lands and waters are accessible and welcoming to people of all backgrounds,» Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement. She called the word «harmful.»

Haaland, who took office in 2021, is the first Native American to lead a cabinet agency.

In September, the Department of the Interior announced its final vote on proposals to change the names of nearly 650 sites that contained the word. The agency conducted an additional review of seven locations, all of which were considered unincorporated populated places. Five of them were traded in Thursday’s announcement.

In western North Dakota, members of a small community selected the new name Homesteaders Gap as a nod to their local history.

Mark Fox, Tribal Chairman of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, welcomed the change, saying Bismarck’s Tribune that the insult «really causes serious and strong emotions and resistance to that term.» In a statement to The Associated Press, he said it was long overdue and «we are pleased that the racially insensitive and offensive name has been removed.»

But Joel Brown, a member of the McKenzie County Board of Commissioners, said many area residents “felt very much against” the change. Brown, who is white, said he and others prefer as little interference as possible from the federal government because «we generally find that they are disconnected from the culture and the economy here.»

Two other recently named places are the communities of Loybas Hill in California’s Central Valley, which translates to «Miss,» put forth by the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians; and the valley of Yokuts.

The others are Partridgeberry, Tennessee, and Lynn Creek, Texas.

The decision has a long precedent. The Department of the Interior ordered the renaming of places with derogatory terms for blacks and Japanese in 1962 and 1974, respectively.

Just last year, the authorities renamed 28 Wisconsin sites to remove a racist word, a panel recommended the name change of a red mountain tied to a massacre, and the federal government renamed hundreds of peaks, lakes, streams, and other geographic features with racist and misogynistic terms.