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The East Chinaman Spring in Yellowstone National Park. Photo: Jon G. Fuller/VW PICS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

A new congressional bill seeks to create a board to help rename more than 1,000 towns, lakes, streams, creeks and mountain peaks across the U.S. still named with racist slurs.

Why it matters: About 621 places have the word "negro" in them. New Mexico is home to a reservoir called Wetback Tank. The U.S. Board on Geographic Names oversees all naming decisions, but critics contend it's overwhelmed and slow to rename places despite public pressure.

Driving the news: The Reconciliation in Place Names Act, introduced Friday by Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), would create an advisory board made of civil rights advocates and tribal members.

  • The board would accept proposals from tribal nations, state and local governments and the public on suggested name changes.
  • The advisory board would then make recommendations to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, the agency running the process for name changes.
  • Critics contend it isn't transparent. A government link exists where people can suggest name changes yet gives scant details on the names' status.

By the numbers: The database maintained by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names shows there are 799 sites containing the word "squaw" — a derogatory term for Native American women.

  • The places using "negro" include Big Negro Creek in Warren County, Illinois — and Negro Foot, Virginia, an unincorporated community said to have been named in reference to an enslaved person whose foot was amputated to prevent escape.
  • Twenty-nine places contain the word "Chinaman" — an offensive term describing Chinese American men. They include Chinaman Hat in Wasco County, Oregon, and Chinamans Canyon in Las Animas County, Colorado.
  • In addition to Wetbank Tank reservoir in New Mexico's Sierra County, there are 12 places around the country with the term "greaser." Both are epithets used to describe Mexican Americans.

What they're saying: “We need to immediately stop honoring the ugly legacy of racism and bigotry, and that’s why I’m introducing the Reconciliation in Place Names Act with my colleagues,” Warren said in a statement.

  • “This is about ending egregious expressions of systemic racism and bigotry and taking a step toward dismantling white supremacy in our economy and society. It’s about building an America that lives up to its highest ideals.”

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to state that Big Negro Creek is located in Warren County, Illinois.

Go deeper

Aug 17, 2021 - Axios Tampa Bay

Where Tampa Bay's schools stand on COVID

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Students and staff at Manatee County public schools are now required to wear masks — with an opt-out option, should parents choose.

  • Debate at the Manatee County School Board's emergency meeting Monday went on for more than three hours.
  • The mandate will go through Aug. 25 and most likely be extended at the next school board meeting.

Why it matters: Last week — Manatee’s first of the school year — saw 177 students and employees test positive for COVID-19.

GOP Rep. Gonzalez retires in face of Trump-backed primary

Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R) Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R) announced his retirement on Thursday, declining to run against a Trump-backed primary challenger in 2022.

Why it matters: Gonzalez has suffered politically since siding with House Democrats to impeach the 45th president after the Capitol riot.

Swing voters oppose Texas abortion law

Protesters at a rally at the Texas State Capitol. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

All 10 swing voters in Axios’ latest focus groups — including those who described themselves as "pro-life" — said they oppose Texas' new anti-abortion law.

Why it matters: If their responses reflect larger patterns in U.S. society, this could hurt Republicans with women and independents in next year's midterm elections. The swing voters cited overreach, invasion of privacy and concerns about frivolous lawsuits jamming up the courts.