(CBS4) – The Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board voted unanimously on Thursday to get rid of the offensive name of a mountain in Clear Creek County and instead honor a Cheyenne woman named Mestaa’ėhehe. The mountain that’s currently called Squaw Mountain looms tall in Colorado’s foothills. The Northern Cheyenne Tribe asked to rename it Mestaa’ėhehe Mountain.
Several proponents of changing the name provided comments to the board on Thursday morning before the vote and said the word squaw is derogatory toward Indigenous women.
The board did receive one email opposing the change, but in the end the members voted to send the recommended name change to the governor’s office.
Northern Cheyenne Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Teanna Limpy told CBS4 last month that the name was extraordinarily offensive.
“It became popular, probably because of the Indian wars and because of the … I guess, the hatred of native people. And one way to conquer nations is to conquer the women and the children,” she said.
Mestaa’ėhehe was also known as “Owl Woman.” She lived between 1810 and 1847 and married William Bent, a member of the family Bent’s Old Fort is named after. She was talented with languages and helped coordinate trade.
The governor’s office released this statement to CBS4: The CO Geographic Naming Advisory Board will make a recommendation to the Governor, at which time the Office of the Governor will relay their opinion on the proposal to the US Board of Geographic Names for a final determination. The CO Geographic Naming Advisory Board was established by Governor Jared Polis to evaluate proposals concerning name changes, new names, and name controversies of geographic features and certain public places in the State of Colorado and then making official recommendations to the Governor.