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Obama, McCain, Piestewa Among Possible Names For Phoenix Streets

By Christina Estes, Lauren Gilger
Published: Wednesday, September 16, 2020 - 7:23pm
Updated: Thursday, September 17, 2020 - 11:57am

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Squaw Peak Drive
Christina Estes/KJZZ
Squaw Peak Drive was originally named Flynn Lane before it was changed in 1964.

Two streets in Phoenix are close to being renamed. On Wednesday, the City Council unanimously approved a process to move forward with renaming Robert E. Lee Street and Squaw Peak Drive.

Even though the city recorded more opposition than support from residents who live on the streets, change is coming. 

During public comment, resident Javier Torres said it’s not right for non-Native people to tell the Native community the s-word is not offensive. 

“I don’t feel we would do that to African Americans and tell them that the n-word is not offensive to them. I don’t feel that we would do that to our Jewish brothers and sisters and tell them that anti-Semitic slurs should not be offensive to them,” he said.

Councilman Sal DiCiccio whose district includes Squaw Peak Drive said, "This is a real problem name. It's an extremely offensive name, it's a derogatory name and, again, is this a name you would want in front of your daughter, your mother or your sister? And I think the answer is very simple. It's a big time no." 

Historically, the s-word has been used to demean and degrade indigenous women. Robert E. Lee commanded the Confederate Army in the Civil War.

street sign
Christina Estes/KJZZ
Street in north Phoenix was changed to honor Confederate General Robert E. Lee in 1961.

“We in a region not recognized by the south as even being in the south must not emulate the mistakes our neighbors are only just now coming to terms with,” said Jacob Raiford.

Residents who live on both streets will rank their top name choices and their results will be given to the City Council which will then vote. The new names will not take effect before Jan. 11, 2021, so residents, property owners and the city have time to make necessary changes. Phoenix is setting aside money approximately $28,000 to reimburse residents and property owners for direct expenses related to changing their address.

City staff compiled a list of suggested names and separated them into names suggested by residents who live on the streets and the community at large.

Street names Proposed As Alternatives To Squaw Peak Drive

Eligible Name Submitted By Residents

  • Desert Sunset

Eligible Names Submitted By Community

  • Piestewa Peak Drive 
  • Charles Keating IV 
  • Coyote Crossing 
  • Humble Way 
  • Michael Williams 
  • Mountain Trail Drive

Street Names Proposed As Alternatives To Robert E. Lee Street

Eligible Name Submitted By Residents

  • Black Mesa
  • Desert Cactus Street
  • Edge Hill Street
  • Neutral Way
  • North Hills Street

Eligible Names Submitted By Community

  • Annie Dodge Wauneka 
  • Aves de Arizona
  • Bell's Vireo 
  • Blatteroon 
  • Bonita Calypte 
  • Buffalo Soldier Way 
  • Calle de Belleza 
  • Calle de Esperanza 
  • Calle de la Fortuna 10
  • Calle de la Paz 
  • Calle de Muchos
  • Camino de Montaña 
  • Candelabra 
  • Carpetbagger 
  • Casas de Bien 
  • Casas de Bienestar 
  • Casas Pacificas 
  • Charles Keating IV
  • Fatuous 
  • Harriet Street 
  • James T Kirk Boulevard 
  • John Lewis Way 
  • John McCain 
  • Jordin Sparks Avenue 
  • Kaitlyn Dever Boulevard 
  • Laurens Road 
  • Lincoln Ragsdale 
  • Obama Drive 
  • Pertinacious 
  • Pico del Valle
  • Quisquous 
  • Rose Mofford 
  • Schadenfreude 
  • Schuyler Street 
  • Southwest Sun Avenue 
  • Surrender 
  • Varlet 
  • Vista Al Valle 

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