Friday, June 19, 2009

Squabbling over a word

Or should I say ****bbling over a word?

STOCKTON SPRINGS, Maine -- For nearly a decade, locals here have been fighting American Indians over the name of a dead-end dirt road.

The lane in question, on a woodsy bluff overlooking the ocean, was once called Squaw Point Road. Maine banned the word "squaw" from place names in 2000, in deference to Indians who consider it racist. Names such as Squaw's Bosom Mountain and Little Squaw Brook quietly receded into history.

But residents here played Scrabble with the spelling instead. They renamed the road Squawpoint -- then later, Squa Point and Squapoint, complying with the letter of the law but not with its spirit, critics say.

The resistance prompted the state into action again. This month, Maine lawmakers amended the law to ban public place names that include "the designation 'squa' or any derivation of 'squa' as a separate word or as a separate syllable in a word."

Lesley Cosmano, a retired Chicago schoolteacher who moved here with her husband in 2005, finds the amendment ridiculous. "This means birds can no longer squawk, people can't squabble" and town squares might be outlawed, she says, in her dining room with views of Penobscot Bay -- namesake of one of Maine's largest Indian tribes.

(From the Wall Street Journal)

It's an interesting look into small-town politics.

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