Los Cruces has its fair share of problems. Disrespectful residents who don’t take their hats off at restaurants. Limited beer selection on Friday nights. Tumbleweeds, obviously.
But the one opportunity residents had to address a real problem in the city was just thrown out the window with such wreckless (and racist) abandon that you have to wonder if there’s any hope left for the southern New Mexico city.
Municipal rules require 75% support of residents to change street names. Unfortunately, only six of the 20 residents on or adjacent to “Squaw Mountain Drive” backed a recent push to change the street sign slur.
Which means 70% of Squaw Mountain Drive residents are literally Hitler and support keeping a boot on the neck of Indigenous people who are only trying to be proud and strong but can’t because of the street sign.
Activist and “mental health provider” Chantelle Yazzie-Martin spearheaded the effort to change the ever-offensive name change, stating that “the term perpetuates the hypersexualization of Indigenous women.”
As reported by the Los Cruces Sun News, people who want to “understand the term’s offensive uses” should definitely not Google “ sexy Squaw Halloween costumes” or search “hot Squaw rockin’ the trailer” on pornography sites for evidence of how “the harmful term” has been used to put Indigenous people down.
Do not do it.
Goddamnit come back here!!
Yazzie-Martin said Indigenous people can’t be proud or strong so long as street signs continue to oppress them.
“We’re very proud. We’re very strong as Indigenous women. But we can’t do that because we are fighting these implications all the time about being dirty or easy, or given these sexist and derogatory terms.”
But residents on Squaw Mountain Drive had another perspective.
Johnny “Squaw” Reynolds said he resents the attempt to rename his nickname-sake.
“Seems like Yazzy-Mazzy could solve this problem by not looking up squaw porn. Not every word is offensive. We can’t stop saying ‘employed’ or ‘sober’ just cuz insane people got big feelings. Stop treadin’ on me and my street sign.”
To Antonio Sanchez, a 30-year resident, his decision to vote “no” on the name change comes down to bad alternatives.
“I don’t want to live on ‘Rabbit Ears Lane’ “—one alternative proposed by the city. “TV antennas aren’t street names,” he said.
For Norma Alberts, who has lived in the neighborhood for ten years, the attempt to rename her road won’t change the problems within the Indigenous community.
According to the Sun News, if residents don’t agree to the name change, “The only other way the name could change would be if the city could prove the change would ‘benefit the City from a public safety aspect,’ allowing it to waive the need for public consent.” But according Larry Nichols, director of the Las Cruces Community Development Department, “that won’t apply.”
The reason it won’t apply is that a word is not a public threat. That is, words are not violence.
“Calling someone a dickhead will no more make bald-headed people spontaneously combust than folks on Squaw Mountain giving directions to their house will perpetuate welfare dependency or domestic violence,” 22-year resident Tom Winstead said.
“Sure I feel bad for what happened to Indians, but that’s war. You don’t see the Japanese living in a state of perpetual victimhood, always demanding apologies. Move on, go invent Nintendo or something.”
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