The North Texas town of White Settlement, the site of a deadly church shooting over the weekend, was built in the 1840s.
It’s a relatively small town, with a population of nearly 18,000.
Here is how it got its name:
The land was historically occupied by the Comanche, Tonkawa and Caddoc tribes, according to Norris Chambers, founder of the White Settlement Historical Museum. When an influx of white settlers began moving into the area in the mid-19th century, the indigenous people named the land for its new residents.
In the 1840s, there were seven Native American communities and just one village of white settlers, Chambers said.
Chambers said the white settlers decimated bison populations to drive the Native Americans onto reservations, and few were left by the turn of the century.
The town almost changed its name
Today, more than 82% of White Settlement’s residents are white. Native Americans make up 0.5%.
The town considered changing its name in 2005 amid concerns that “White Settlement” was deterring potential businesses. The proposal was ultimately defeated by a margin of 9-to-1 among the 2,500 residents who voted, the New York Times reported at the time.
“Today our name keeps us from having a meaningful conversation with potential partners,” said Grant Jackson, a member of the Choctaw tribe of Oklahoma who moved to White Settlement in the 1970s. “It doesn’t mean there’s any racial strife here, but something like West Settlement would go down a lot easier.”
Then-Mayor James Ouzts told NPR the name reflected the town’s racial demographics and insisted no residents considered it racist.
“I have never had a minority approach me about the name,” he said in 2005.