Petition under consideration to change name of Mt. Evans

DENVER -- A Denver elementary school teacher filed a petition with the U.S. Board on Geological Names over the summer to change the name of one of Colorado's famous fourteeners.

The petition seeks to change the name of Mt. Evans to Mount Cheyenne Arapaho.

Mt. Evans is Colorado’s 14th highest peak. It’s home to the highest paved road in North America, making it one of the most accessible fourteeners in the state.

It was named for Colorado’s second Governor, John Evans. According to the petition, “The proponent states that the name should be changed because of Evans' "part in the infamous Sand Creek Massacre and its subsequent cover up."

“The sand creek massacre is considered to be one of the most egregious horrific mass killings of native people in far as I know, world history,” Metro State University history professor Matthew Makley told FOX31.

The massacre happened November 29, 1864 in southeastern Colorado near Eads. Two hundred and thirty Native Americans from the Cheyenne and Arapahoe tribes were killed. Most of the victims were women, children and elders.

“The details are horrific, probably not suitable for public consumption without some kind of disclaimer,” Makley said. “We know that the bodies were mutilated in the wake of the killing.”

The spot is now a U.S. National Park Service National Historic Site.

Evans did not have a direct hand in the massacre. However, historians have determined that his policies laid he groundwork that made the attack possible.

“He didn’t apologize for it. He didn’t acknowledge the fact that it was a massacre and so that’s where I think there is a legitimate concern about his legacy,” Makley said.

He says while he cannot speak for the Cheyenne and Arapahoe Tribes, seeing Evans’ name celebrated must be difficult.

“I think that the pain is still palpable. This event is something the community doesn’t forget,” he said.

According to the USGS, “changes in existing names should not be made without a compelling reason”.

The Board has asked for input from Denver City and County Parks, which operates Summit Lake Park just below the summit.

Spokeswoman Cynthia Karvaski tells FOX31 Denver hopes to respond by the end of the year.

They can choose to support the name change, reject the name change, propose an alternative name or allow the Board to move forward without Denver’s input.

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