What do we mean by ‘history’?

Submitted by Tyler Kerr
Posted 8/11/20

Dear Editor:

I was interested to see the Tribune’s story Thursday, about the Park County commission’s response to the proposed name change for the “Squaw Teats” buttes. I …

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What do we mean by ‘history’?

Posted

Dear Editor:

I was interested to see the Tribune’s story Thursday, about the Park County commission’s response to the proposed name change for the “Squaw Teats” buttes. I understand their desire to preserve “the history and heritage of Park County” — and I certainly don’t think name changes like this should be made frivolously — but I fail to see how the current name for the site reflects the history of the Big Horn region, or acts to educate people about that history. What message does it send about us, and what facts does it teach? Are there, hypothetically, other names that might better serve that purpose?

The other way to interpret the commissioners’ statement is basically as an appeal to inertia: that the old name for the buttes should stay, because it’s what they’ve always been called. Thanks to the Tribune’s research, we know that this isn’t the case: the oldest known English name for the hills (1906) was “Squaw Buttes,” while “Squaw Teats” has mostly been used since the 1930s. I wouldn’t be thrilled, exactly, if we went back to the older name ... but I think even that would be an improvement.

Best wishes,

Tyler Kerr

Powell

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