Colorado Peak Named after Former Governor Linked to a Massacre of Indigenous People Has Been Renamed
Alaa Elassar, CNN, September 16, 2023
On one cold November morning in 1864, more than 200 Cheyenne and Arapaho tribal members, mostly women and children, were murdered in one of the worst massacres in American history.
For 128 years, the man historians say authorized the massacre had a mountain – which was located on Indigenous territory – named after him.
But not anymore.
Mount Blue Sky, formerly Mount Evans, was renamed in a Friday vote of the US Board of Geographic Names, the US Department of the Interior announced in a news release.
As the 14th highest peak in Colorado, the mountain stands at 14,258 feet along the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and the Pike and San Isabel National Forests.
The new name holds significance because “the Arapaho were known as the Blue Sky people and the Cheyenne have an annual ceremony of renewal of life called Blue Sky,” according to the petition to rename the mountain submitted by the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes.
“It is a huge step, not only for the Cheyenne and Arapaho people, but also for the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Southern Ute Tribe, Northern Arapaho Tribe, Northern Cheyenne Tribe, and other allies who worked diligently to begin the healing process, bringing honor to a monumental and majestic mountain,” Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes Governor Reggie Wassana said in a statement.
The board’s Domestic Names Committee voted on the name change after years of consideration “by state, county, local and Tribal governments” and with the support of nearly 75 organizations and hundreds of people, according to the Interior Department.
“Names matter. How we identify our public lands is an important opportunity to be inclusive and welcoming, and to make a lasting impact for future generations,” Michael Brain, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science, said in a statement.
The US National Park Service called the massacre “one of the worst tragedies of the American West.”