U.S. completes renaming of 650 places to remove derogatory term

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National Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Ellipse near the White House in Washington

(Reuters) - The Biden administration on Thursday said it had completed the removal of the word "squaw" from nearly 650 place names on federal land as part of an effort to reckon with the nation's racist past.

The Interior Deparment had said in November of last year that it was beginning a process to do away the word, a term for Indigenous women that Native Americans find offensive.

"I feel a deep obligation to use my platform to ensure that our public lands and waters are accessible and welcoming. That starts with removing racist and derogatory names that have graced federal locations for far too long," Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American to lead a cabinet agency, said in a statement.

Interior said a task force established to oversee the name changes had received more than 1,000 recommendations, including hundreds through consultations with nearly 70 tribes.

The agency published the list of new names on a department website. The changes included renaming California's "Squaw Valley," the site of the 1960 Winter Olympic Games, "Olympic Valley."

In a separate process, Interior is also seeking public input on other derogatory terms in federal place names.

(Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Aurora Ellis)