Posted on July 5, 2018

Native Americans Seek to Rename Yellowstone Peak Honoring Massacre Perpetrator

Jason Begay, The Guardian, July 5, 2018

Mount Doane is a 10,500ft peak in Yellowstone national park, named for Lt Gustavus C Doane, a US army cavalry captain and explorer. In January 1870, he led a massacre that killed around 175 Blackfeet people, and he continued to brag about the incident throughout his life.

Hayden Valley, a broad valley that holds Yellowstone Lake, was christened for Dr Ferdinand V Hayden, a geologist and surveyor. He also advocated for the extermination of tribal people who refused to comply with federal dictates.

A group of Native Americans say such names can no longer stand. The Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association, an organization of tribal chairmen of 16 Sioux tribes from Nebraska and the Dakotas, is pursuing an application to change Mount Doane to First Peoples Mountain and Hayden Valley to Buffalo Nations Valley.


The US Board on Geographic Names has received a slew of requests since the early 1990s related to the word “squaw”, which has an unclear history but is now recognized as insulting, and has given new names to everything from mountains to waterways and neighborhood streets. Notably, in 2013, it changed Squaw Peak in Phoenix, Arizona to Piestewa Peak, after Lori Ann Piestewa, the first Native American woman to die in combat serving in the US military.

{snip} In 2016, the board approved changing the name of Harney Peak, a mountain in South Dakota named after the US army general William S Harney, who led troops in an 1855 battle against the Brule Sioux and killed women and children as well as warriors. Its new title is Black Elk Peak, for a man believed to be a survivor of the battle.