Squaw Peeved

Although "Oft Penetrated Native American Vagina Peak" has a nice ring to it, it would not be an appropriate new name for Squaw Peak.

That's because "squaw," as the subscholarly sociolinguists in the American Indian Movement have long argued, is not in fact synonymous with "Indian whore," nor is it a derogatory dickhead gringo term for a Native American woman's honeypot.

Actual linguistic scholars have proved that the word "squaw" in fact comes from the Algonquin word meaning "young woman." Related words are still used in the languages of many Algonquin tribes including the Cree, Fox, Unami Delaware and Munsee Delaware.

So Squaw Peak means "Young Indian Woman Peak." But Squaw Peak is a better name than "Young Indian Woman Peak" because it says the same thing in five fewer syllables, which is just one short of the syllabic savings you get calling Colin Powell "black" instead of "African American."

Still, the pussies who make their living being offended continue to push for a name change for Squaw Peak, which, if you don't know, is that barren, ersatz hill north of downtown that's about as pathetic sizewise as a British lassie's tits.

Truly impressive western U.S. peaks, you'll notice, are named after the breasts of French or Spanish women, not the nubs of Anglo-Saxons or the vaginas of Native Americans, which also aren't unusually large, according to scholars.

Indeed, the Tetons and other mountains should be named after ample breasts because that's exactly what they look like.

Oddly, the habit of French and Spanish explorers naming western mountains after breasts did not lead to the next logical step -- the naming of canyons after butt cracks and caverns after vaginas.

For example, Kartchner Caverns, a fairly normal-size cave near Tucson, would be shortened two syllables with the name "Squaw Hole," if, in fact, "squaw" meant "vagina," which it doesn't.

So, "Hoo-Ha Hole" it is.

(While we're at it, we could clean up this confusion about which pointy cave structures are stalactites and which are stalagmites. Calcium carbonate deposits hanging from a cave's ceiling could be called "roof dicks"; those nature erected from the ground could be the "floor dicks." Or, to save more time, simply call them "noodles" and "boners.")

But I digress from the news, which is much more obscene than landmarks named for sex organs.

Late last week, increasingly lame Governor Janet Napolitano asked for the resignation of the chairman of the Arizona Board on Geographic and Historic Names because the guy refused to consider a request to rename Squaw Peak in honor of Army Private Lori Piestewa, the Hopi woman with four syllables in her last name who was killed in the early days of the invasion of Iraq.

The volunteer chairman, Tim Norton, had the audacity to remind Napolitano that state and federal rules prohibit naming or renaming a geographic feature in honor of a deceased person within five years of the date of the person's death.

The rules are in place to avoid the confusion and bureaucratic messes caused when pandering politicians such as Napolitano attempt to reap political gain from civic moments of grief and patriotism. If there were no such rules, federal topographers would be changing maps weekly to keep up with politicians renaming landmarks for every cop, fireman, soldier, sports hero or oppressed minority whose death happens to inspire a candlelight vigil photo on the front page of the Arizona Republic.

The five-year rule allows for a cooling-off period of sorts, a chance to weigh the historical significance of the person and his or her accomplishments against the huge inconvenience to both the government and the citizenry of changing a landmark's name.

It is a good rule. And besides that, Tim Norton is a good man who is simply doing his duty in an utterly thankless position that nobody knew existed until last week.

Yet Janet Napolitano sees an easy target, which, her pedestrian career proves, is the only kind of target she likes. Beating up Tim Norton gives her the chance to look like the liberal she refuses to be when it would take some actual courage to be a liberal.

Indeed, as U.S. attorney, state attorney general and now governor, Napolitano has proven she sorely lacks the characteristics of courage, intelligence and vision needed to get a major landmark named after you.

Truth is, so does Lori Piestewa.

But certainly not by any fault of her own. She was the victim of a terrible tragedy that ended her life before she could ever make a name for herself with her actions.

Major landmarks should be named after great Americans. And great Americans are great because of their actions.

Lori Piestewa was acted upon. She was not a warrior, she was a member of a maintenance crew far from the front line that took a wrong turn and was ambushed by Iraqi soldiers looking for easy targets.

She was the tragic victim of a tragic mistake -- perhaps the tragic victim of unspeakable war crimes.

But because she is the first Native American woman to die in American uniform, she has been canonized far beyond the others among the more than 100 U.S. military dead, many of whom were consciously putting their lives in great peril for their country's goals by serving in forward units of the Army or Marines.

It's the difference between action and inaction, between Senator John McCain, who is considered a war hero because he got captured, which is exactly what you're not supposed to do, and former senator Bob Kerrey, who is considered a war hero because he fought heroically while gravely injured to save the lives of his fellow Navy SEALs.

Piestewa doesn't merit a mountain. It's a mammoth honor better saved for her Vietnam warrior father, or her grandfather, a Hopi Code Talker, or any number of Arizona Apaches who faced certain death fighting American soldiers to save their cultures.

Or, it's a mammoth honor better saved for Native American leaders who have fought to rebuild those cultures from the ashes of American occupation or inner tribal scandal.

Lori Piestewa doesn't deserve her name being dragged into the center of such an ugly quagmire of political posturing, political correctness, revisionist stupidity and my vulgarity.

Only Janet Napolitano deserves to be dragged there.

Napolitano Peak? Too many syllables.

The Androgynous Alps. Milquetoast Mountains. Governor Eddie Munster Mesa. The Estrogen-Depleted Estrellas. Squawless Peak. Closet Lesbian Lovers Leap. The No New Taxes Even in a Budget Crisis Tetons.

Or how about we honor the death of the political career of the Geographic Names board chairman? How about the Neutered Norton Nederlands?

Or how about Sierra de la Perhaps Janet Should Get Up the Courage to Eviscerate Political Figures Who Actually Deserve to Be Run Out of Office by the Governor of Arizona?

After all, while she blasts volunteers to Weed Board-level positions, she either coddles or remains quiet about scandal-ridden but politically powerful punks like Joe Arpaio, Jim Irvin and anybody who financially supported her gubernatorial vision of doing nothing of substance.

Better yet, let's not change the name of Squaw Peak at all.

Because it's not named after something naughty or derogatory.

Because it's one syllable instead of four or five or 46.

And most important, because the people of Phoenix already have a pretty good idea what somebody means when somebody else says they "hiked up Squaw Peak during lunch" or "there's an accident backing up traffic on the Squaw Peak Parkway."

Clearly unbeknownst to our governor, that's the most important role of a landmark. It is supposed to mark the land so people have a clue where the hell they're going.

And if you build a freeway, you name it after the nearest landmark so that when people drive on that freeway and see that landmark, they know they're going in the right direction.

I still have no idea where the Hohokam Freeway is or where it goes.

So keep standing your higher ground, Tim Norton. Don't resign. Don't succumb to Napolitano's cheap politics.

And if you, the public, must rename something, just do it with your vote in late 2006.

Former Governor Janet Napolitano. Now that's got a nice ring to it.

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Robert Nelson