Mount Who? Mount Evans Could Be Undergoing A Name Change
Colorado's Mount Evans has been known as such since 1895 - but now, for the first time, the 14'er could be undergoing a name change.
Where Did Mount Evans Get Its Name?
Mount Evans, the 14th tallest 14er in Colorado, standing at 14,264 feet, is named after John Evans, former Governor of the Territory of Colorado (1862-1865).
About John Evans
Born in Waynesville, OH in 1814, John Evans managed to build himself quite a successful career in medicine and business in Chicago, IL before coming to Colorado Territory in 1862 to serve as second territorial governor.
While Evans did many notable things in his life - from founding Northwestern University in Evanston, IL to having a hand in establishing the University of Denver, to connecting the fledgling territory to the transcontinental railroad, and more - his political influence is ultimately what forced him to resign from his governing role; it's also why many people are seeking to change the name of Colorado's Mount Evans.
Why Do People Want To Change The Name Of Mount Evans?
In November 1864, the Sand Creek Massacre occurred - an instance in which Colorado volunteer soldiers killed more than 150 Southern Cheyenne and Southern Arapahoe people camping near Sand Creek in eastern Colorado.
History Colorado says that recent historical inquiries have determined that Evans holds some responsibility for the massacre; the former Governor's role in precipitating the massacre of peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians at Sand Creek is what led him to resign from his political duties.
A Post-Governing Life
In the 30 years Evans had after resigning from his role as governor, he shifted gears and placed his efforts on working to develop Denver's transportation infrastructure, as well as supporting a variety of educational and religious causes.
Nevertheless, because of the hand he was believed to have had during the Sand Creek Massacre, Native people across Colorado want to see Evans' name removed.
Enough Is Enough
The discussion about changing the name of Mount Evans has been going on among tribal communities and beyond for years now.
Four years ago, the Denver American Indian Commission wrote in support of changing the name, stating:
"It's time to discontinue using Evans' name because we do not honor mass killing of human life for any reason. Colorado's interest in promoting inclusivity is stronger than any prior interest in honoring a man who is known for politically targeting Tribes (Utes, Cheyenne, Arapaho and Lakota) with messages of hate and fear, of which directly resulted in a massacre of over 160 people, including mostly women and children.
Changing The Name Of Mount Evans - What Are The Options?
Fred Mosqueda of the Southern Arapaho, who is also the Arapaho Coordinator for the language and culture program within the Education Department of the Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribes in Oklahoma, along with his counterpart for the Cheyenne, Chester Whiteman (who is Southern Cheyenne) have put forth a proposal to change the Mount Evans name, according to Rocky Mountain PBS.
Mosqueda and Whiteman reportedly began discussing a new name for the mountain a few years ago -
“I said, ‘If it was just me, then it would be easy,’” Mosqueda told Rocky Mountain PBS.
“I told him, ‘But there's two tribes here, so we have to have a name that can cover both tribes.’” He said that while the Cheyenne and Arapaho are two different federally recognized tribes, they always work together - and together, they found the perfect overlap in the name Blue Sky.
As per Mosqueda, Whiteman said, “the Cheyennes have a ceremony that’s a renewal life that they do every year … called Blue Sky … and your people (the Arapaho) are called Blue Sky.”
The name Mount Blue Sky has since become especially popular among tribal representatives, although, according to 9News, there are currently a total of six alternate names on the table for Mount Evans, two of which were suggested by the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes:
- Mount Blue Sky
- Mount Cheyenne-Arapaho
- Mount Rosalie
- Mount Sisty
- Mount Soule
- Mount Evans (but named for the daughter of John Evans)
9News says the state board is considering the name change of Mount Evans and is listening to tribal input before making any changes - but it is not the board who has the final say.
A Nov. 17 is scheduled where the panel will hear from people who have submitted the six name proposals and hear public comment.
The final proposed name will have to first be approved by Governor Jared Polis and then by the U.S. Board of Geographic Names.
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