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Name Of Creek Sparks Controversy In Nevada County

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NEVADA COUNTY (CBS13) — There is no sign next to the creek. So when the Smiths wanted to find the name of the stream behind their house, they looked on a map, and they were shocked with what they found.

“We really like it,” Dave Smith says of the creek in the Rough and Ready community of Nevada County. “It’s really beautiful, one of those little nooks and crannies.”

Dave Smith thought he had found his paradise when he bought this land a year and a half ago.

That is until he found out his creek is called “Negro Creek.”

“It doesn’t feel very good at all,” Smith tells CBS13.

Smith wants the name changed, but historians in Nevada County say the name comes from a time when African-Americans mined the area and that changing it would be rewriting history.

But Negro Creek may not be the original name either. On some older maps, the creek is named using a more offensive word, the “N-word” Creek.

So Smith had an idea.

“Why can’t they name it Black Miners Creek?” he asks. “The history would be kept, and everybody would be happy.”

But that wouldn’t make everyone happy. Lee Dixon of Grass Valley showed up to at the Nevada County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday to fight the change.

“Leave it as it is,” he says. “Why change it? It’s history.”

Denton Denny has lived near the creek for more than 25 years. He says he once saw the original miners map with the racist name and says it’s fine with him if the creek’s name is changed.

“It would be fair as far as I’m concerned,” he says. “If there’s an objection to the name, and I know why it is, I wouldn’t be objected to it.”

The board sent a letter to the NAACP asking for its recommendation. Supervisors are waiting for a response and hope to make a recommendation to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names by the  board’s next meeting Dec. 6.

“So this is it, this is hopefully Black Miners Creek in the future,” Smith says as he walks along the creek.

The Smiths want the Board of Supervisors to know one more thing. They say just because something is historical doesn’t mean it’s right.

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