What are the odds Mount Evans will be renamed, as Indigenous peoples have proposed?
The Clear Creek County Commission already has approved the name change to Mount Blue Sky, but now it must be reviewed by a state agency, the Colorado Geographic Names Advisory Board. The board will consider six different names, and a decision won’t be made until late this year or early next, according to Chris Arend of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.
Names being considered include Mount Cheyenne-Arapaho, Mount Jerome, Mount Rosalie, Mount Sisty and Mount Soule. “The process going forward is that the CGNAB will consider all the six Mt. Evans renaming proposals starting in September,” Arend said. “Once the Board arrives at recommendations it will send those along to Gov. Polis for his approval. The governor will then send the state's final renaming recommendation to the U.S. (Bureau of Geographic Names) who has final determination of renaming geographic features on federal land in the U.S. (with some limitations).”
After the board makes its decision, it will be up Colorado Gov. Jared Polis to recommend a name change, or not, to a federal board overseeing names.
No word from Gov. Polis on name change
Gov. Polis’ office initially acknowledged receipt of an email seeking comment on the name change. The office did not follow up with an answer, however. The office did not respond to a second email.
The Arapaho long have been known as “Blue Sky people” and the Cheyenne have an annual ceremony on renewable life called Blue Sky. A short video made by Mestaa’ehehe Coalition celebrates these and other facts about Mount Evans.
“You can’t talk about the land without talking about the people, and you can’t talk about the people without talking about the land,” says Morning Star Jones.
“We’re not going to lose anybody in this battle,” adds Fred Mosquedo. “I will sing a victory song on top of that mountain.”
Why rename a mountain?
The push to rename Mount Evans stems from actions by the former governor. He ordered the slaughter of Indigenous peoples at the Sand Creek massacre and resigned in disgrace.
“You have to close your eyes and imagine, a person being honored who tried to kill your family,” said Jones, a descendant of massacre victims.
Jones said renaming the mountain will give Indigenous peoples “a fresh start for the next generation.” Adds Mosquedo, “Once changed we will look upon the mountain with great feeling. He’s gone, his name’s gone, but we’re still here.”