Colorado board votes to change name of mountain honoring governor blamed for Sand Creek Massacre to Mount Blue Sky

The 14,265 foot mountain’s current name honors the disgraced former Gov. John Evans, who was forced to resign for his leadership role in the Eastern Plains attack that resulted in the murder of 230 Cheyenne and Arapaho people

Tatiana Flowers
The Colorado Sun
A yearling mountain goat explores an abandoned building on Mount Evans.
Hugh Carey/Special to The Colorado Sun

The state’s Geographic Naming Advisory Board on Thursday voted unanimously to strip the name of disgraced territorial governor John Evans from a Clear Creek County fourteener and recommended Mount Blue Sky as the new name, honoring Cheyenne and Arapaho people whose ancestors were killed in the Sand Creek Massacre.

The unexpected vote by the board — which often takes months to evaluate proposals to change offensive or controversial names of geographic features and public places — came after Native American tribe members and dozens of other Coloradans participated in the online meeting and advocated for swiftly removing Evans’ name from the peak. 

“No name can undo the pain and suffering caused by the Sand Creek Massacre, but removing the name of the man most responsible for the massacre honors the very tribes that Evans sought to destroy. There is no place to honor perpetrators of atrocities on America’s public lands,” Paul Spitler, director of wilderness policy at The Wilderness Societysaid in a petition filed supporting the Mount Blue Sky name change. The Wilderness Society and Cheyenne and Arapaho tribe members made the official nomination and presentation.

Evans was governor of Colorado territory from 1862 to 1865. He was forced to resign for his leadership role in the Nov. 29, 1864, Sand Creek Massacre, which resulted in the murders of more than 230 Cheyenne and Arapaho people, mostly women, children and older adults.

Six name change proposals were under consideration, far more than usual, an indication of Mount Evans’ controversial nature. Mount Soule, Mount Rosalie, Mount Cheyenne Arapaho, Mount Sisty and a request to keep the name the same also were on the table.


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