Updated: October 2, 2022
US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland named Native Hawaiians Niniaukapealiʻi Kawaihae and Kamanaʻolana Mills to serve on the new Advisory Committee on Reconciliation in Place Names, a federal advisory group formed to help identify and recommend changes to derogatory terms still in use for places throughout the country.
Kawaihae is a special assistant with the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and Mills is a senior supervising project manager in Sustainable Industry Development at Kamehameha Schools.
“It is important that the voice and perspective of the Native Hawaiian people continue to be heard on a national level, and we mahalo Secretary Haaland for including these outstanding leaders in this critical endeavor of helping to eliminate the symbols of oppression in our collective past,” said Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey, Board Chair of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. “It will be very interesting to see the results of this committee’s work.”
Secretary Haaland announced the advisory committee on Aug. 9, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.
Committee members will be tasked with developing a process to solicit and assist with proposals to the Secretary to identify and change derogatory names by engaging with Tribes, the Native Hawaiian community, state and local governments, and the public.
Members are expected to meet two to four times a year to identify geographic names and federal land unit names that are considered derogatory and solicit proposals on replacement names. Committee meetings will be open to the public and announced in the Federal Register at least 15 days in advance.
“Our nation’s lands and waters should be places to celebrate the outdoors and our shared cultural heritage – not to perpetuate the legacies of oppression,” Secretary Haaland said. “The Advisory Committee on Reconciliation in Place Names will accelerate an important process to reconcile derogatory place names. I look forward to listening and learning from this esteemed group.”
Other people appointed to the committee:
- Derek Alderman, Professor of Geography, University of Tennessee
- Angelo Baca, Assistant Professor, Department of History, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences, Rhode Island School of Design (Diné/Hopi)
- Kiana Carlson, J.D. candidate, Mitchell Hamline School of Law (Ahtna Kohtaene, Taltsiine; Native Village of Cantwell, Alaska)
- Julie Dye, Board Member, Eliminating Racism & Creating/Celebrating Equity (Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians)
- Michael Catches Enemy, Tribal Archaeologist, Oglala Sioux Tribe Fifth Member’s Office (Oglala Sioux)
- Donald Lee Fixico, Professor of History and Indian Studies, Arizona State University (Sac & Fox, Shawnee, Mvskoke, Seminole)
- Christine Karpchuck-Johnson, Lecturer, Departments of Anthropology and Geography, University of Nevada Reno
- Jason MacCannell, Special Assistant to the Director, California Department of Parks and Recreation
- Lauren Monroe Jr., Secretary, Blackfeet Tribal Business Council (Blackfeet Nation, Pikuni)
- Federico Mosqueda, Coordinator of the Arapaho Language and Culture Program (Arapaho)
- Rachel Pereira, Vice President of Equity and Inclusion at St. John’s University
- Kimberly Probolus-Cedroni, Historian, Washington D.C.
- Howard Dale Valandra, Member, Tribal Land Enterprise Board of Directors (Rosebud Sioux Tribe)
- Aimee Villarreal, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Texas State University
- Elva Yanez, Senior Advisor for Parks, Land Use, and the Built Environment at the Prevention Institute
The Committee also includes four ex officio members from the federal government:
- Charles Bowery, Executive Director, U.S. Army Center of Military History, Department of Defense
- Meryl Harrell, Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, U.S. Department of Agriculture
- Elizabeth Klein, Senior Counselor to the Secretary, Department of the Interior
- Letise LaFeir, Senior Advisor, Office of the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, Department of Commerce