NANFA-- pikeminnow (was Mosquito fish)

Christopher Scharpf (
Fri, 05 Jan 2001 12:54:09 -0400

Jay DeLong groused:

>Common names are changed at times. For example, the name squawfish is
>officially dead and replaced by pikeminnow. To me this is a very confusing
>name! And as someone else pointed out somewhere, why include the word
>"pike" at all with this fish considering the legal and public relations
>efforts to remove northern pike from western waters?

Pikeminnow is a perfectly fine name. It's a minnow. And it's pike shaped.

A little background for those unfamiliar with the fish's name change:

Members of the genus Ptychocheilus were commonly referred to as "squawfish"
until the American Fisheries Society (AFS, the group responsible for the
stability of American fish nomenclature) deemed the name offensive in 1998.
Although the precise origin of the term "squaw" is uncertain, many Native
American groups believe it refers to female Indians in a derogatory manner, and
are having it removed from the names of towns and historic sites.

According to the American Fisheries Society, the term "squaw" was probably of
Indian origin and predates European settlement. Whether the term, as applied to
the fish, was ever intended to be derogatory to Native American women is
uncertain and probably unlikely. Another explanation for the name is that it's a
mispronunciation of "squawkfish" (the fish squawks when taken out of the water).
Regardless of the term's origin, it's now regarded as so offensive by most
Native Americans that it violates the AFS's mandate that common names be in good

While some complain that this is political correctness run amok, the name
"pikeminnow" is actually superior to "squawfish" for the reasons I stated above.

Chris Scharpf

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