The Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board moved to make an official recommendation to Colorado Gov. Jared Polis to change the name of Mount Evans to Mount Blue Sky.
The unanimous decision by the board came during the Nov. 17 meeting where all suggested names were considered. The suggested names included Mount Soule, Mount Rosalie, Mount Sisty, Mount Cheyenne-Arapaho and Mount Evans (rededicated).
The end of the meeting was reserved for public comment where Colorado residents, tribal members and others could voice opinions about the name change.
Andrea Valeska is part of Right Relationship Boulder, a group focused on forming relationships with the indigenous community that are rooted in justice and collaboration. She explained during public comment that naming parts of nature for human beings is against indigenous values.
“To name Mother Nature after a person, independent of what this person did, is very disrespectful for indigenous people,” Valeska said.
Fred Mosqueda of the Southern Arapaho tribes came up with the name Mount Blue Sky along with Chester Whiteman of the Southern Cheyenne tribes. The name they chose is universally inclusive but has meaning to indigenous people.
“It means so much as a ceremony to the Cheyennes,” Mosqueda said.
Whiteman explained at the meeting some of the details that go into a Blue Sky Ceremony for the Cheyenne Tribes.
“The Blue Sky Ceremony is a ceremony for all living things; men, women, children, plants, earth water, life; and when that gets made, anybody can go to that tipi and get a blessing from that article that's made,” Whiteman explained
After hearing from parties involved in the name-changing process of the mountain, the consensus was that each minute it went without a new name, the mountain would continue to provide a hurtful reminder to Native Coloradans about the Sand Creek Massacre. Board members decided against any further delay and voted in favor of the name Mount Blue Sky.
Randy Wheelock is a Clear Creek County Commissioner who has been involved in the name change process since it started two years ago. Members of the county have worked closely with Native American tribes to properly educate themselves on why a name change is in order.
Wheelock explained that the process has not been hasty, and has been especially long for those who are hurt by the current name.
“We went through this two-year process, but that's nothing compared to the 158 years that have passed since the Governor Evans Proclamations of 1864 and the massacre,” Wheelock said.
Valeska pointed out the history happening by including indigenous people in the decision, and thought this could be a step towards reparations.
“History is happening because indigenous people are having a voice and indigenous people are having an opportunity to share what is important for them,” Valeska said. “And as a form of reparation of the massacre that happened in this land, I think it is a beautiful step toward toward right relationship and toward healing for all of us.”
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