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  • Originally published 08/15/2013

    Namibia scraps German place names

    Until recently, Namibia's history as a German colony was emblazoned across its map. Now the government has decided to replace the names of several municipalities with those of a more indigenous origin. But not everyone is happy about the move.Like much of Africa, the Caprivi Region of Namibia has long carried the imprint of European colonialism. Once in the possession of Germany, many streets, towns and regions carry German names. There are Schultzes and Meinerts among the locals, and German is the mother tongue for a local minority.But now, nearly a century after the end of German colonial rule, the Namibian government has decided to replace many of these German names with those of a more indigenous lineage.Caprivi is now Zambezi, after the river that runs through the region. A tropical strip of land that juts off from the country's northeast corner, it was named by the Germans after Count Leo von Caprivi, a Franco-German War veteran who succeeded Otto von Bismark as chancellor of imperial Germany....

  • Originally published 05/01/2013

    South Dakota tries to change "Negro" and "squaw" place-names

    South Dakota is finding it difficult to change time-worn names of locations that are seen as offensive by African-Americans and Native Americans, such as "Negro" and "squaw" creeks, canyons and mountain ridges.The state issued a plea this month for public assistance in renaming five geographic features. The five are part of a total of 18 sites that include the word "squaw" or "Negro" in their names and have been designated by the legislature as needing renaming.But some of the replacement names suggested by the South Dakota Board of Geographic Names have been rejected by an obscure federal body called the U.S. Board on Geographic Names....