“Mount Blue Sky” honors Indigenous peoples and the wilderness area should reflect that
A beautiful tale of triumph and transformation came to a close—and another opened—in Colorado last month when the iconic fourteener, Mount Evans, that decorated the Denver skyline was officially renamed Mount Blue Sky by the U.S. Board of Geographic Names, thanks to a valiant effort by the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes and the Mestaa’éhehe coalition.
Renaming the mountain to Mount Blue Sky
Natural beauty is Colorado's calling card. From ancient rock formations to raging rivers to perfect autumn foliage, the state is a treat for the senses.
Unfortunately, the names attached to some of this grandeur can be anything but beautiful.
Mount Evans was originally named after Colorado Governor John Evans, responsible for the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864, in which hundreds of Cheyenne and Arapaho men, women and children were brutally killed. Until late, the mountain was a constant reminder of this dark chapter in history.
Mount Blue Sky respects the cultures of local Indigenous peoples, and honors the ancestors of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, hundreds of whom were killed during the Sand Creek Massacre. The new name is a symbol of healing, hope and unity—and showcases the immense power of collective action.
Now Congress needs to rename Mount Evans Wilderness
Mount Blue Sky is located at the heart of a wilderness area that still bears the mountain’s old, harmful name commemorating John Evans—Mount Evans Wilderness. But changing the name of any wilderness area requires an act of Congress. The name of the wilderness should reflect the mountain's new identity, so we can continue to learn, heal and grow together.
Fortunately, Sen. John Hickenlooper, Sen. Michael Bennet, Rep. Joe Neguse and Rep. Brittany Pettersen have introduced a bill in Congress to match the wilderness’ name to the mountain’s.
Let’s finish the job by changing the wilderness’ name.
Together, we can ensure that the names of our natural wonders honor the values, principles and morals we hold dear today—just like the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes and the Mestaa’éhehe coalition did with Mount Blue Sky. Join us in making public lands more inclusive and welcoming to all.