Advisory board hears from Native American communities as renaming process for Mount Evans begins
The Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board heard from Native American tribes across Colorado and beyond to begin discussions around renaming Mount Evans.
“It takes a lot to talk about the atrocities that have happened to your community,” Kathryn Redhorse, board member and leader of Colorado’s Commission on Indian Affairs, said.
The 14er’s most recent name comes from former Colorado Gov. John Evans, who was in leadership during the Sand Creek Massacre, which resulted in the murders of more than 230 Cheyenne and Arapaho people, mostly women, children and older adults. U.S. Cavalry led by Colonel John Chivington attacked a village consisting of Cheyenne and Arapaho who had sought protection near Fort Lyon in present-day southeastern Colorado.
“As the Colorado geographic naming advisory board considers proposals to rename Mount Evans, we would like to begin this consideration of this matter by learning the history of the Sand Creek Massacre and territorial Gov. Evans’s involvement,” said Tim Mauck, deputy executive director of the Department of Natural Resources. “We asked representatives from the Northern Cheyenne, Northern Arapaho, and Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes and Native community members to participate to further educate the board.”
Currently, there are six options up for consideration: Mount Soule, Mount Rosalie, Mount Blue Sky, Mount Cheyenne Arapaho, Mount Sisty and Mount Evans. If the name were to remain the same, the mountain would be named for Gov. Evans’s daughter Anne Evans, who co-founded and supported cultural institutions such as the Denver Art Museum, the Central City Opera and the Denver Public Library. Many of the Native American leaders who spoke to the Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board said that Mount Blue Sky or Mount Cheyenne Arapaho would be the most appropriate.
“Evans was roundly condemned, forced to resign in disgrace, and is not deserving of recognition,” a statement from the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes and The Wilderness Society reads. “(We) propose to rename Mt. Evans as Mt. Blue Sky as it signifies the Arapaho as they were known as the Blue Sky People and the Cheyenne who have an annual ceremony of renewal of life called Blue Sky.”
Mount Soule would be named for Captain Silas Soule, who refused an order to participate in the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864 in which U.S. troops killed members of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes. The name Mount Sisty would commemorate Wilson Edward Sisty, who founded the Colorado Department of Wildlife and Fish and served three governors as State Fish Commissioner.
Historically, this would not be the first time the mountain in Clear Creek County has been renamed. Before it was called Mount Evans, it was named for Rosalie Bierstadt, the wife of Albert Bierstadt, a German painter who painted many of Colorado’s mountain ranges.
At its October meeting, the board limited public comments in order to hear presentations from Native community members. At its next meeting, the board will hear more broadly from community members who wish to make comments on the change.
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