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Credit: Eric Schuette (Mt. Evans); iStock (sign)

Is Mt. Evans Due for a New Name?

The fourteener's namesake authorized one of the most shameful acts in Colorado history—and some think it's time for a change.

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History’s heroes don’t always age well. Take John Evans. As Colorado’s second territorial governor, in 1864, Evans authorized what today is called the Sand Creek Massacre—an attack on peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes that left more than 150 Native Americans dead. Nevertheless, in 1895, Colorado’s Legislature honored the politician by naming the state’s 14th-tallest peak Mt. Evans. More than a century later, a Denver teacher is trying to strip Evans of that tribute. In June 2018, Kathleen Tynan-Ridgeway petitioned the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN)—the federal body tasked with christening landmarks—and asked it to rename the fourteener Mt. Cheyenne Arapaho. “Let us be known in history,” the petition reads, “as the generation who took responsibility for bigoted, tyrannical and ignorant decisions/policies and made amends.” The BGN considers changing a moniker if, say, the new designation better matches local usage, corrects a duplicate or mistake, or removes an offensive reference. But just because Tynan-Ridgeway’s proposal falls into the final category doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed success. Highway markers, maps, and travel guides would need to be updated, so the BGN must decide whether Evans’ atrocious act outweighs ingrained parlance. The board will likely announce its verdict this spring. Before it votes, it’s asking for input from stakeholders such as indigenous tribes and the U.S. Forest Service. Colorado residents can also email comments to bgnexec@usgs.gov. Consider this your chance to change history—or at least geography.

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