CLEAR CREEK COUNTY, Colorado – The Clear Creek County Board of Commissioners voted to rename Mount Evans to honor the indigenous peoples of Colorado, and the recommendation will now be forwarded to state and government naming boards federal.
The Mestaa’ehehe Coalition — Mestaa’ehehe means owl woman in Cheyenne — said Tuesday’s decision came after three weeks of meetings, public comment and discussion.
They recommended the new name Mount Blue Sky. The Arapaho were known as the Blue Sky People, and the Cheyenne hold a ceremony called Blue Sky every year, so the coalition decided that name was more appropriate.
“While we know there’s still a lot of work to do, we celebrate this huge step forward. We can’t thank everyone enough for coming out, again and again, to support Tribal Voices and Mount Blue. Sky,” the coalition wrote. .
A spokesperson for the Mestaa’ehehe Coalition said the recommendation will now be submitted to the Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board for consideration. Then they will forward it to Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who will then forward his recommendation to the United States Geographic Names Board, which will make the final decision.
It is not yet known when the decision will land on the agenda of the Council of State.
Mount Evans stands 14,264 feet south of Georgetown and west of Evergreen, and is a prominent peak along the Front Range.
It is named after former Territorial Governor John Evans (1862-1865), who authorized the killing of Native Americans in Colorado and was responsible for the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864, which ended with hundreds of men, women and Cheyenne and Arapaho women. children killed, according to the Sand Creek Massacre Foundation.
The official petition to rename Mount Evans, which was submitted in 2020, reads: “Mount Evans is a breathtakingly beautiful Colorado landmark that deserves a name that honors its natural and cultural history. … Evans was categorically condemned, forced to resign in disgrace, and does not deserve recognition.”
The petition notes long-standing efforts to change the name of the mountain.
In December 2018, the Denver American Indian Commission wrote its support for the name change in a statement that read, “It’s time to stop using Evans’ name because we don’t honor the mass murder of the human life for any reason Colorado’s interest in promoting inclusivity outweighs any prior interest in honoring a man known for politically targeting tribes (Utes, Cheyenne, Arapaho and Lakota) with messages of hate and fear, which directly led to the massacre of more than 160 people, mainly women and children.”
Additionally, Evans’ great-great-grandson, Tom Hayden, said he supports the change, according to KGNU.
Clear Creek County received five different name proposals earlier this year. Besides Mount Blue Sky, other recommendations included Mount Cheyenne-Arapaho from the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, Mount Soule from a private party, Mount Rosalie from a private party, and Mount Evans from a private party (at renaming after another member of the Evans family).
In December 2021, the U.S. Board on Geographical Names voted to rename Squaw Peak in Clear Creek County to Mount Mestaa’ehehe.
Click here for a proposed list of all Colorado locations that the US Geological Survey is considering renaming.
Jim Ramey, Colorado State Director for the Wilderness Society – which participated in the co-filed petition to rename Mount Evans – said if the mountain was renamed Mount Blue Sky, the Mount Evans Wilderness Area would not change. automatically accordingly. This would require an act of Congress.
“But we at the Wilderness Society, the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes (in Oklahoma), and many of our conservation and recreation partners support renaming the Wilderness area to Mt. Blue Sky Wilderness,” Ramey said. . “That probably won’t happen until the whole process of changing the name of the mountain is complete.”