Change the Name: Tribal activists will embark on a 250-mile walk across Colorado for the redress of a tragic history
A Colorado governor’s territorial decree led to the massacre of over 200 Cheyenne and Arapaho elders, women, and children in 1864. In 2022, efforts to remove his name from one of Colorado’s most famous peaks are sweeping the state.
Pictured: The Summit of the mountain at the center of renaming efforts in Colorado, Mount Evans. Image credits to the Clear Creek County Tourism Bureau.
John Evans served as territorial governor of Colorado from 1862 to 1865, a time period in which rapidly expanding westward migration had led to high tensions between white settlers and the Indigenous Cheyenne and Arapaho peoples of the area. Amidst this conflict on the Colorado plains, Evans made two proclamations calling for the forced relocation of tribes and the killing of any Indigenous person deemed “hostile” by settlers. These proclamations directly led to the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864, in which Col. John Chivington and the Third Colorado Cavalry massacred over 200 Cheyenne and Arapaho people.
The scars of the mass killing at Sand Creek continued to impact the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes in the years that followed: the wounds of this history disrupted their cultural lifeways, broke down many of their societal structures, and traumatized generations of tribal members.
But despite his complicity in the massacre and his subsequent resignation as territorial governor, a western Colorado peak was named after Evans 30 years after Sand Creek.
In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 and an ongoing racial reckoning in the United States, Colorado Governor Jared Polis established an advisory board tasked with investigating Colorado place names and recommending changes - including that of Mount Evans. Local Indigenous groups have petitioned the board to change the peak’s name to ‘Mount Blue Sky,’ reflecting the Arapaho tribe’s moniker “the Blue Sky People,” and honoring an annual Blue Sky ceremony held by the Cheyenne.
Pictured: Mestaa'ėhehe Coalition’s flyer for the upcoming Prayer Walk to rename Mt. Evans. Learn more about the event HERE.
In support of efforts to rename the mountain, Ancestral Healing Circle has partnered with the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes as well as Mestaa'ėhehe Coalition and several other local advocacy groups to organize an October 1st-9th, 2022 Prayer Walk. The Tipi Raisers are honored to be part of this special event and this deeply important cause. We will be bringing horses and riders to the Walk from October 1st-3rd and are looking forward to journeying in solidarity with the Indigenous activists working to impact change in our home state of Colorado. Details on the upcoming prayer walk to rename Mt. Evans can be found at HERE or by checking out Ancestral Healing Circle’s Facebook event page for the prayer walk HERE.
Additional resources on this topic can be found below.
On the tragic history of the Sand Creek Massacre:
"THIS DAY IN HISTORY: November 29, 1864 – 230 Cheyenne & Arapaho Massacred at Sand Creek" from Native News Online: https://nativenewsonline.net/currents/november-29-1864-230-cheyenne-arapaho-massacred-at-sand-creek
Resources from the Sand Creek Massacre Foundation: https://www.sandcreekmassacrefoundation.org/history
"Colorado Experience: Sand Creek Massacre," a one-hour documentary from PBS on the history of Evans' proclamations and the Sand Creek Massacre, available to watch for free at the following link: https://www.pbs.org/video/colorado-experience-sand-creek-massacre/
On efforts to rename Mt. Evans and other Colorado landmarks:
“Mount Evans may be renamed ‘Mount Blue Sky’ under state proposal” from Colorado Public Radio:
“Public Discusses Changing The Name Of Mount Evans” a video from CBS Colorado:
“Efforts To Rename Mount Evans In Colorado Moves Forward” from Wyoming Public Media:
“Colorado panel recommends Indigenous name change for mountain” from Indian Country Today:
This blog post is a part of our Reconciliation through Education series. To learn more about this and other issues related to the Tipi Raisers mission, please email email@example.com to sign up for our newsletter.
Sources include: Coverage of this topic from Indian Country Today, The Colorado Sun, Wyoming Public Media, and Colorado Public Radio.
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