Colorado Peak Gets a Meaningful Name Change

Mount Evans is now Mount Blue Sky
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 18, 2023 2:05 AM CDT
Colorado Peak's Controversial Name Is Changed
FILE - Visitors pass the sign on the summit of Mount Evans near Idaho Springs, Colo., July 15, 2016.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

Federal officials on Friday renamed a towering mountain southwest of Denver as part of a national effort to address the history of oppression and violence against Native Americans. The US Board on Geographic Names voted overwhelmingly to change Mount Evans to Mount Blue Sky at the request of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes and with the approval of Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, the AP reports. The Arapaho were known as the Blue Sky People, while the Cheyenne hold an annual renewal-of-life ceremony called Blue Sky.

The 14,264-foot peak had originally been named after John Evans, Colorado's second territorial governor and ex officio superintendent of Indian affairs. Evans resigned after Col. John Chivington led an 1864 US cavalry massacre of more than 200 Arapaho and Cheyenne people—most of them women, children, and the elderly—at Sand Creek in what is now southeastern Colorado. "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 Gov. Reggie Wassana said after Friday's vote.

In recommending the change to Mount Blue Sky, Polis said Evans' culpability for the Sand Creek Massacre, tacit or explicit, "is without question." "Colonel Chivington celebrated in Denver, parading the deceased bodies through the streets while Governor Evans praised and decorated Chivington and his men for their 'valor in subduing the savages,'" Polis wrote in a Feb. 28 letter to Trent Palmer, the federal renaming board's executive secretary. Tribal leaders are now focusing their efforts on changing the name of the adjacent Mount Evans Wilderness Area to Mount Blue Sky Wilderness area, which would require congressional action. (Read more Colorado stories.)

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