MEDFORD, Ore. — An Oregon county has decided not to change the name of Dead Indian Memorial Road.
Commissioners in Jackson County received a report summarizing comments on whether to rename the road that stretches from Ashland to Highway 140 near Lake of the Woods in southwest Oregon. At Thursday’s meeting, a majority of commissioners said 202 responses in a county of more than 200,000 residents was an insufficient sample. They set aside the issue.
“It’s not a very significant for or against in the context of the totality of our population,” Commissioner Colleen Roberts said, according to the Mail Tribune .
But the demand for change was overwhelming from those who provided an opinion, with 188 favoring a name switch and 14 opposed. The vote was much closer among those who live on the road — 11 support, 10 oppose.
“No matter what you do, you will not have a perfect situation,” John Vial, director of the county’s Roads and Parks Department, told the commission. “Leaving it the same will upset a bunch of people. Changing it will upset a bunch of people.”
The newspaper reports that white settlers in the 1850s found two deceased Native Americans in the area where the road was later built. Historians believe they likely were killed by another tribe.
Locals began calling the road Dead Indian Road after it was constructed in 1870. County commissioners changed it to Dead Indian Memorial Road in 1993, but the name remains controversial.
Commissioner Rick Dyer suggested dropping the word “Dead,” preserving the history tied to the name while removing what some consider the most offensive word.
Roberts, however, wondered whether a future commissioners would have to respond to outcry over the word “Indian” if it remained in the name.
“Nationwide, in my opinion, political correctness is kind of a movement,” she said. Roberts added that she considers it important to preserve history: “To remember, not to relive — or repeat.”
Advocates for changing the name were disappointed by the lack of action, but said the effort is not over.
“The people most impacted by the name should be consulted,” said Keely Meagan, referring to Native Americans. “This name made busloads of children cry.”
Information from: Mail Tribune, http://www.mailtribune.com/