Colorado eyes changing mountain name tied to massacre

March 16, 2022 GMT

DENVER (AP) — One of Colorado’s most popular mountains is a step closer to being renamed in honor of the state’s Indigenous people.

Clear Creek County commissioners voted Tuesday to recommend changing Mount Evans to Mount Blue Sky at the request of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes. The Arapaho were known as the Blue Sky People, and the Cheyenne hold an annual renewal of life ceremony called Blue Sky.

The recommendation will be considered by a state naming board and Gov. Jared Polis before a final decision from the U.S. Board on Geographic Names.

The 14,264-foot (4,348-meter) peak southwest of Denver is named after John Evans, Colorado’s second territorial governor. Evans resigned after an 1864 U.S. 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.

“I don’t think that this community and I don’t think that that mountain deserves this negative connotation associated with this name,” Clear Creek County Commissioner George Marlin told KDVR-TV in Denver.

The proposed name change is part of a broader national effort to address a history of colonialism and oppression against Native Americans and other people of color.