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Monday, April 21, 2003  

Arizona to honor Piestewa

Prometheus 6, a brand new blogger, has good news about Army Pfc. Lori Piestewa, who died in combat in Iraq. A mountain top in her home state will be renamed for her.

PHOENIX (AP) --After prodding from the governor, a state board Thursday decided to rename a prominent mountain peak after an American Indian servicewoman killed in Iraq.

The change did not occur without controversy. Some people on the panel that considers geographic names wanted to wait. That seems odd considering the national controversy over the word "squaw" in the names of some places.

Some members of the Arizona Geographic and Historic Names Board had resisted Gov. Janet Napolitano's push to rename Squaw Peak in honor of Army Pfc. Lori Piestewa, noting that federal policy requires that people be dead five years before their names can be used on geographic features.

Through a resignation and an absence the measure passed.

Piestewa, a Hopi from Tuba City in northern Arizona, is the only American servicewoman to die in the war. She was among nine members of the Army's 507th Maintenance Company killed when their unit made a wrong turn near Nasiriyah and drove into an ambush March 23. Six members of the 507th were taken prisoner but ultimately rescued.

I agree with this abrogation of procedure. In five years, the invasion of Iraq will be history to most people. The likelihood the young woman would be honored then is nil.

Now, I want to see something that is more than symbolic done for the living -- Pfc. Piestewa's two young children. Funds should be raised to assure their upbringing is the economic equal of those of middle-class children, as well as for their college educations eventually.

I suppose, as someone who is part Indian, I should say something about the "squaw" controversy. I don't have strong feelings about it. Linguists say the racy meaning sometimes ascribed to the word is not accurate. But, if "squaw" has taken on a negative inference over time, that might be reason enough not to use it.

8:43 AM