Home to the highest paved road in North America, Mount Evans is set to be renamed following a unanimous vote by the Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory board. Mount Evans will be renamed Mount Blue Sky, a long-awaited change by many Native American tribes, especially those tribes victimized in the Sand Creek Massacre.
The Sand Creek Massacre happened in late November of 1864. According to the National Park Service, American troops killed around 230 Cheyenne and Arapaho, most of whom were women, children, and elderly. Governor John Evans had instructed any Native Americans that he deemed peaceful to go to the Sand Creek area near Fort Lyon to receive supplies and find safety. However, all Forts in the territory of Colorado were under orders to shoot and kill any Native American that approached a Fort.
John Evans was the governor of the Colorado Territory when the massacre occurred. He notoriously used rhetoric to incite violence against Native Americans in Colorado and it is well known that he instigated what took place at Sand Creek. Congressional and military committees were formed to investigate the massacre, and finding guilt on the part of the U.S. government subsequently forced Evans to resign as Governor in 1865.
However, Mount Blue Sky is not the preferred name for everyone. The Northern Cheyenne have previously advocated for the name the be changed to Mount Cheyenne-Arapaho since they feel it gives respect to both the Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes. “Blue Sky” is an oft-used name in sacred Cheyenne ceremonies that are not shared with the outside world.
Additionally, an exhibit opened this past Saturday at History Colorado in Denver. The Sand Creek Massacre: The Betrayal that Changed Cheyenne and Arapaho People Forever shares the accounts of the Arapaho and Cheyenne members that survived the massacre.