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Year-End Legal Information Update From Washington, DC

2021 was a better year than 2020, but has ended badly with soaring virus outbreaks. Our U.S. Congress still has a lot of leftover legislative work carrying over into 2022. But the federal information worker bees have continued to add more content and finding aids to their many online resources.

On December 20th the Law Library of Congress posted A Trove of Information: The Congress.gov Coverage Page and then on December 21st their 2021 Congress.gov Top 10 and Year in Review. Next on December 27th they posted their list of The Most Viewed In Custodia Legis Posts of 2021. Finally on December 28th, they posted An Introduction to Law Library of Congress Reports & The Most-Viewed Reports of 2021.

In 2022, they are continuing their online Foreign and Comparative Law Webinar series. The first in the series will be Odd laws in the United Kingdom presented by Senior Foreign Law Specialist Claire Feikert-Ahalt.

I want to end out this piece with an update about changing derogatory names. Sports teams are dropping derogatory names about native people. The Washington football team has not chosen a new name, but there is pressure to use the name Red Wolves in honor of these critically endangered wolves in the southeastern United States. Now some states such as Colorado and California are reviewing and changing derogatory place names.

On November 19th, Deb Haaland, Secretary of the Interior, “formally established a process to review and replace derogatory names of the nation’s geographic features”. This Secretarial Order 3404 “formally identifies the term “squaw” as derogatory and creates a federal task force to find replacement names for geographic features on federal lands bearing the term. The term has historically been used as an offensive ethnic, racial, and sexist slur, particularly for Indigenous women. There are currently more than 650 federal land units that contain the term, according to a database maintained by the Board on Geographic Names.

The newly created Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force will include representatives from federal land management agencies, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion experts from the Department. The Order requires that the task force engage in Tribal consultation and consider public feedback on proposed name changes.” This is another good step in the ongoing process of ameliorating and reversing the way our native indigenous people have been treated over the centuries.

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