Places across the US Include Racist Slurs in Their Names

by Vins
Published: Updated:

Vocativ and Colorlines report that over 1,400 federally recognized place names in the United States include racist slurs.

Jennings Brown describes the Vocativ study’s methods: Using 2.2 million official location names form the US Geological Survey’s Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) in combination with the Racial Slur Database, Vocativ “tallied and mapped hundreds of places with names that evoke racial oppression and a legacy of hatred.”

In the American west, the vast majority of derogatory place names target Native Americans. For example, “Squaw” is the most common racial slur, with 828 places in the US referencing it. There are variations in how “squaw” is used, but most refer to Native women in pejorative, and often sexual, ways.

Writing for Colorlines, Sameer Rao notes that, “Despite the significant progress made in removing Confederate flags from government buildings and challenging racist names of federally-recognized destinations,” the new study “quantifies just how much is left to be changed.”

As of March 2016, the Vocativ study and its findings regarding the number of places in the United States with racist names have not been covered in the corporate news media.


Jennings Brown, “Racial Slurs Are Woven Deep Into The American Landscape,” Vocativ, October 29, 2015,

Sameer Rao, “More Than 1,000 Places Still Have Racist Names,” Colorlines, November 3, 2015,

Student Researcher: Joanna Escalante (Citrus College)

Faculty Evaluator: Andy Lee Roth (Citrus College)