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The Ellen Payne Odom Genealogy Library Family Tree
The Family Tree - June/July 2003
Piestewa Peak!


Piestewa Peak!
Rename Squaw Peak to honor soldier from Tuba City
Apr. 8, 2003 12:00 AM

Grief is a raw and penetrating emotion that should not be politicized.

But sometimes rare clarity comes out of the pain. And sometimes unexpected healing can emerge from the tears.

The brave death of Pfc. Lori Piestewa can be one of those times.

In the rural Arizona town where Piestewa went to high school, those who knew her spelled out her name with white stones atop a 200-foot mesa just outside town. Flags flew at half-staff in the community where she once led the Tuba City High School Junior Marine ROTC. Friends brought food to her family.

These demonstrations of grief for a Hopi woman who lived on the Navajo Reservation mark the sacrifice of a single mother who is believed to be the first Native American woman killed in combat while fighting for the U.S. military.

These are touching, fitting and natural outpourings of the pain the death of a loved one inflicts on the living.

Next month, Piestewa will be honored by the country she died for in ceremonies in Washington.

That, too, is appropriate. The nation owes more than it can repay to those willing to die in its name.

Arizona can do something, too.

The state can use this tragedy to end an enduring controversy and honor a woman whose life was dedicated to service.

It can rename Squaw Peak as Piestewa Peak. It can end the long-running concern by some Native American activists that the word "squaw" is demeaning and insulting to the first Americans.

Some will say this is politically correct pap.

They are wrong. This can be a fitting way to honor one of Arizona's war dead and heal an old wound.

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