Editorial: Rename the road

It's not about history. It's about common sense, and common sensibility.

Dead Indian Memorial Road, originally Dead Indian Road, was named after Dead Indian Creek, which got its name when white settlers found two deceased Rogue River Indians in a deserted wigwam there about 1854. It was believed the two were killed by members of the rival Klamath tribe, but the details really don't matter. The name says more about the settlers' lack of imagination than anything.

Now, 163 years later, the original name has been altered to Dead Indian Memorial Road, supposedly to soften the insult of the original name. It's hard to see how adding the word "Memorial" accomplishes that. We still don't know the names of the two deceased people, or anything about them other than the fact that they met an untimely end. So what, exactly, is being memorialized?

The Jackson County commissioners held a public hearing Wednesday attended by  people supporting and opposing a name change. The best the opponents could muster was to assert that the original name is historic, and wasn't meant to be derogatory. Perhaps not, but it is undeniably insensitive and demeaning to Indians who still live here. And, judging by the complaints received regularly from visitors, it doesn't do much for the area's image.

A church camp operated for years near the creek was renamed some years ago from Dead Indian Soda Springs to Camp Latgawa, after a local tribe. That's historic, and respectful. The county should adopt something similar.

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