CLEAR CREEK COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– The Ute, Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes are just some of the people living in Colorado long before any of the famous 14er peaks were named. Now there’s a campaign to change Colorado’s fifth highest peak: Mount Evans.
“This is our original homeland. This is where we are from,” Karen Little Coyote told CBS4 in November 2018.
When American settlers showed up, the Native Americans were driven out of their ancestral lands, many of them massacred. One of those was the Sand Creek Massacre.
In 1884, U.S. Army Colonel John Chivington and the 3rd Colorado Cavalry attacked and destroyed a village of Cheyenne and Arapaho people in southeastern Colorado. Chivington was appointed by Colorado Territory Gov. John Evans.
Karen Little Coyote’s ancestor was killed in the massacre. It’s a story she knows well but still gets her choked up when she tells it.
“She was crying. She said, ‘Don’t forget us. Don’t forget us.’ That gets me every time,” said Little Coyote.
In November 2018, school teacher Kathleen Tynan-Ridgeway proposed to the U.S. Board of Geographic Names a name change for Mount Evans, due to Evans’ role in the massacre.
Little Coyote thinks it is a good idea, “We would like very much to see things changed, names changed.”
According to March and April meeting minutes from the board, another name change proposal has been made for the peak. A woman has proposed Mount Soule after one captain who refused to participate and later attempted to hold Chivington accountable for the killings.
Tynan-Ridgeway says she still wants to see a name change from Evans and is currently working with native leaders to come up with a replacement.