The word “squaw” has finally disappeared from the names of all public places in Maine, 11 years after state law aimed to wipe the word deemed offensive by American Indians off maps.

But the owner of a ski resort with the word in its name refuses to go along, saying it’s a tribute to American Indians.

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names approved name changes this summer for a half-dozen locations in Aroostook County that still contained a variation of the word that many Indians say is offensive and translates to prostitute or whore.

“It’s unfortunate it took 11 years,” said Wayne Mitchell, the Penobscot Indian Nation’s representative in the Legislature. “I thought, as a civilization, we were a lot further along than I guess we were at this time.”

The law doesn’t affect Big Squaw Mountain Resort, perhaps the best known place with the word in its title. And James Confalone says he has no intention of changing the name of his small ski resort outside Greenville.

Confalone insists that the Legislature — and the Indians — got it all wrong.

He maintains that the word means Indian woman, and only slowly became offensive after the early 1970s. His ski area is a “monument” to Maine’s Indian tribes, he says.

“The intent here is not to disparage Indians. The intent is to carry on the name,” said Confalone, whose primary home is in Florida.

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names is an interagency panel that approves all names on maps put out by federal agencies, including the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Forest Service.

The board has dealt with sensitive words through the years, said Lou Yost, the board’s executive secretary. In 1963, it changed all geographic names containing the derogatory form of Negro, and in 1974 it changed all names containing the disparaging form of Japanese.

As for “squaw,” Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Oregon and Nebraska have passed legislation to change geographic names containing the word, he said.

Twice in the 1990s, the board was asked to remove the word from all geographic names. But after two years of analysis, the board decided not to change the name universally because not all Native Americans considered it to be derogatory, there was no single-word replacement on which everybody could agree, and some Indian tribes indicated that they would prefer to change the names themselves to names in their language, Yost said.

In Maine, the names of dozens of towns, mountains, lakes and other public places were changed after Gov. Angus King signed a bill in 2000 requiring the changes.

Nobody expected it to take more than a decade to complete the task, said John Dieffenbacher-Krall, executive director of the Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission. Some places resisted changing names that had been around for generations, and he filed complaints against local and county commissions that were slow in changing the names of some places.

Even so, having all of the names changed is a good thing, he said. “I think it’s another step in the non-Indian population further recognizing indigenous people of this land,” he said. “It’s a positive step in improving tribal-state relations. I think all people want to be treated with respect.”

But Confalone says eliminating the word is “revisionist history.” He says his dictionaries that were published before the 1970s don’t refer to it as offensive.

Merriam-Webster Inc., publisher of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, defines the word as an American Indian woman, or a woman or wife, and says it is both disparaging and offensive.

Although the word is now considered offensive, it wasn’t always that way, spokeswoman Meghan Lieberwirth said in an email. Scholars who have studied the issue agree that “squaw” first entered English in the 1600s, and that the original meaning of the word that gave rise to “squaw” was not considered offensive, she said.