Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK — Yellowstone National Park is renaming one of its largest mountains to honor Native Americans after research showed the peak's original namesake led a massacre that killed at least 173 members of a local tribe.
Known previously as Mount Doane, the peak has been renamed First Peoples Mountain, the National Park Service announced June 9. First Peoples Mountain sits to the east of Yellowstone Lake in the southeastern part of the park, with a summit of 10,551 feet.
What's in a name? Mount Doane was named after Lt. Gustavus Doane, a key member of the Washburn-Langrod-Doane expedition to Yellowstone in 1870, two years before it became the world's first national park, according to The Associated Press.
- Earlier that same year, Doane led an attack on a group of Piegan Blackfeet in northern Montana, in response to an alleged murder of a white fur trader. Now known as the Marias Massacre, the attack killed at least 173 Piegan Blackfeet, including many women, elderly tribal members and children suffering from smallpox.
- Doane bragged about the massacre for the rest of his life.
The U.S. Board on Geographic Names voted 15-0 to affirm the name change, following recommendations from the Rocky Mountain Tribal Council and votes by the Wyoming Board of Geographic Names.
"A reckoning with history": First Peoples Mountain is the latest in a trend to "better recognize the roles and contributions of Native Americans," according to NPR, and is a priority of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland — who is also the first Indigenous Cabinet secretary.
Native Americans applauded the renaming, saying it's an important step to better represent the history of Indigenous communities.
- "We heard our Blackfeet sisters' screams as they ran to the river on the cold January morning in 1870," said Tom Rodgers, a Blackfeet tribal member and adviser on the Rocky Mountain Tribal Council. "We heard their cry for justice. We sought justice. We sought an accounting. We sought a reckoning with history. It has taken far, far too long for this journey of healing to arrive."
- "Finally hope and history rhyme," he told CNN.
- "This name change is long overdue," Piikani Nation Chief Stan Grier said, according to NBC News. "We all agree on First Peoples Mountain as an appropriate name to honor the victims of such inhumane acts of genocide, and to also remind people of the 10,000-year-plus connection tribal peoples have to this sacred place now called Yellowstone."