Federal US officials renamed a Colorado mountain that was previously named after a disgraced governor of the state who led a massacre against Indigenous people.
Members of the US Board on Geographic Names voted to change the name of Mount Evans to Mount Blue Sky, at the request of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes.
The new name was approved on Friday during a Council of Geographic Name Authorities board meeting in Oregon, according to a press release from the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes.
The new name holds significance for both tribes. The Arapaho are known as the Blue Sky people, and the Cheyenne tribe hold an annual ceremony that is called Blue Sky, the Associated Press reported.
The mountain, a nearly 15ft peak in south-west Colorado, was previously named after John Evans, the notorious state governor who instigated a massacre against Indigenous people in the 19th century.
Evans resigned in 1865 for his role in the Sand Creek massacre. During that massacre, more than 200 Arapaho and Cheyenne people were killed in the Sand Creek that sits in a south-eastern region of Colorado.
Most of those killed in the massacre were women, children and people who were elderly, the AP reported.
The governor of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, Reggie Wassana, celebrated the renaming as an important part of the “healing process”.
“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,” Wassana said in a statement published by the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal Tribune.
Both tribes are now working to have the name of the Mount Evans wilderness area, which sits adjacent to the peak, changed to the Mount Blue Sky wilderness area.
The name change would require congressional action, the Associated Press reported.
While the new Mount Blue Sky name has garnered widespread support, some descendants of Evans have disapproved of the renaming, the Colorado Sun reported.
The Northern Cheyenne tribe also did not approve of the name, noting that “Blue Sky” refers to a sacred ritual and that the renaming “would be considered exploitation”.
The governor of Colorado, Jared Polis, requested in March that the federal naming board approve the peak’s renaming. The Colorado Sun reported that Polis’s request was part of a greater push to address violence and discrimination facing Indigenous people in US history.
Source of data and images: theguardian