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Changing name of Colorado's Mount Evans to Mount Blue Sky is 'sacrilegious,' Northern Cheyenne leader says

Bruce Finley, The Denver Post on

Published in News & Features

Evans did this, Polis wrote, through proclamations aimed at eliminating Native Americans from eastern Colorado “and actions further empowering Colonel John Chivington.”

Polis in 2021 rescinded Evans’ proclamations. In his letter, he assured federal board members tasked with reviewing such name changes that Colorado’s renaming process included “a broad diversity of stakeholders, Tribal consultation, local government buy-in and leadership, and significant public input, including feedback from living descendants of then-Territorial Governor John Evans.”

Northern Cheyenne leaders intervened earlier in February, sending a letter to federal officials that conveyed their concerns. Walksalong subsequently requested an official government-to-government consultation — leading to the delay of a scheduled March 9 vote.

“The Board on Geographic Names has put the vote on hold to honor the Tribal Consultation process,” U.S. Geological Survey spokeswoman Rachel Pawlitz confirmed Friday morning.

In Denver at the History Colorado museum, tribal leaders gathered for a ceremony including prayers, in addition to a discussion of how to proceed with renaming Mount Evans. History Colorado recently featured an exhibit on the Sand Creek Massacre. Friday’s gathering coincided with a visit by 100 Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribe elders to traditional homelands and the Denver March Powwow.

“All tribal nations have had over a year and a half to provide input, so this last-minute request is surprising,” Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes Gov. Reggie Wassana said in a statement ahead of the ceremony, supporting the Mount Blue Sky proposal.


“All parties have agreed upon the vision unilaterally, and now we await approval from the Board of Geographic Names…,” Wassana said. “We hope the name change happens soon for our Cheyenne and Arapaho people to heal, regardless of who received credit for changing the name.”

Participants at the ceremony included members of the Northern Cheyenne, Northern Arapaho and Ute Mountain Ute tribes.

Colorado officials said they are waiting for federal officials to make a final decision.


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