Yellowstone Renames Mountain with Historically Offensive Name
Publish Date: June 11, 2022
Yellowstone National Park is in a season of celebrating its 150 year anniversary. As the world's first national park and the launch of the global park's system, there has been a lot of focus on the history of the park.
Mount Doane is a 10,550 feet (3,215.6 m) mountain peak that has been official renamed First Peoples Mountain. In a response to NPR, William Snell, the Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council said, "It is a victory, yes. Is Is history being rewritten and retold truthfully? I hope so."
The mountain had been named after Gustavus Doane who was an explorer who was part of the Washburn-Langford-Doane expedition in 1870 that help secure the federal protection status of the park.
However, historical research revealed that Doane had played a significant role on an attack of the Piegan Blackfeet people. This deadly attack left 173 Native Americans dead.
History further revealed that Doane even boasted of his work in this attack and delivered an unworthy praise of the massacre throughout his remaining years of life.
Renaming the Mountain
The renaming of the mountain accomplished multiple objectives. It first removed the historical name that was associated with the savage attack on the Piegan Blackfeet people now known as the Marias Massacre.
Second, the new name seeks to honor Native Americans and their involvement in the development and protection of the national parks. Yellowstone National Park announced the renaming on June 9, 2022 in a public post on the NPS website.
The US Board of Geographic Names is the federal body responsible for geographic name usage and continuity across the governement agencies. This official body voted 15-0 in favor of making the name change.
Although Gustavus Doane had served the governement in a variety of positions and was even instrumental in helping secure the protected status for Yellowstone Natoinal Park, his behaviors and mindset were not consistent nor worthy of recognition.
His affirming attitude and celebration of his role in killing 173 of the Piegan Blackfeet Native Americans are not in alignment with that the national park system represents to the American People.
Dr. Phillip Imler, President of the Global Alliance of National Parks, noted, "The GANP stands in alignment and in support of the Rocky Mountain Tribal Council's recommendation and the US Board on Geographics Names unanimous decision to change the name to move away from the offensive history associated with Gustavus Doane."
Protect and Promote
The National Park Serivce stood strong on principle in making the name change. Native Americans have played and are playing a signficant role in the protection and promotion of the country's national parks. It is imperative that honor and reconition are bestowed accordingly.
Park officials in Yellowstone noted that additional changes may be warranted with other derogatory or offensive geographical names. "As the GANP looks to promote the significance of the world's national parks and the resources they protect, it is essential that we promote the geographical names and history that reflects and honors the right people and sources," Imler added.
- National Park Service, https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/news/22022.htm
- NPR, Story and Imagery, retrieved June, 11, 2022. https://www.npr.org/2022/06/11/1104252264/yellowstone-first-peoples-mountain-native-americans, retrieved June 11, 2022.