Updating names in Texas

Posted by Minh Nguyen on 14 June 2021 in English (English). Last updated on 23 June 2021.

Last week, the U.S. federal government finally agreed to retire a number of racially insensitive names of landforms and bodies of water in Texas, 30 years after the state legislature petitioned the federal government to rename them after accomplished Black Texans. (Most of them had originally been named with an even worse racial slur.) OpenStreetMap has been updated to reflect the new names that are in GNIS, the federal government’s official gazetteer. The corresponding Wikidata items have also been added or updated, to prevent data consumers from overriding OSM names with the offensive old names, but also to link to more information in Wikidata and Wikipedia about the person whom the feature now commemorates.

Most of the features had to be mapped for the first time, because GNIS doesn’t have enough detail about linear features like valleys and creeks to import them, and NHD had only been imported in a few parts of the state. Except for Emancipation Pond, which is in a residential development under construction, a traveler is unlikely to ever stumble upon these remote features in the vast Texas landscape. Even so, much more accessible locations get renamed practically every day. Hopefully these OSM and Wikidata entries will serve as a handy model for mappers to follow as we find more efficient ways to track and respond to name changes.

Updated name OSM feature Wikidata feature Wikidata namesake
Freedom Hollow Added Added
Hendrick Arnold Bluff Renamed Renamed Added
Buffalo Soldier Creek Added Added
Bill Pickett Hill Renamed Renamed
Jack Johnson Creek Added Added
Lake Henry Doyle Added Added Added
Lake William Goyens Renamed Added Added
Matthew Hooks Reservoir Renamed Added Expanded
John Horse Hollow Added Added Expanded
George Ruby Bend Added Added Expanded
Norris Cuney Gully Added Added Expanded
Negros Liberty Settlement (abandoned) Removed
Leonard Harmon Hollow Added Added
Ada Simond Creek Added Added Expanded
Milton Holland Creek Added Added Expanded
Emancipation Pond1 Added Renamed
Kiamata Creek Added Added Added
Henry Flipper Hill Renamed Renamed Expanded
Negro Tank (demolished) Removed
Buffalo Soldier Draw2 Added Renamed

Comment from skorasaurus on 23 June 2021 at 22:36

Thanks for your work on this Minh.

Login to leave a comment