Yellowstone Dumps Massacre Leader's Name

Gustavus Doane of Mount Doane boasted of slaughtering Native Americans, including children
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2022 8:23 AM CDT
Yellowstone Peak's 'Offensive Name' Is No More
This 1977 photo shows the former Mount Doane, now named First Peoples Mountain, in Yellowstone National Park.   (Wikimedia Commons/J. Schmidt)

The name of a man who led a massacre of at least 173 Native Americans, including women and children suffering from smallpox, has been scrubbed from a peak in Yellowstone National Park. The 10,551-foot Mount Doane was named for Army officer and explorer Gustavus Doane, who ordered the 1870 Marias Massacre of a band of Piegan Blackfeet in response to the alleged killing of a white fur trader shortly before leading the first official exploration of the land that makes up the park, which would later lead to federal protection of the area and the removal of indigenous groups. After a 15-0 vote by the US Board on Geographic Names, it will hereafter be called First Peoples Mountain, per the New York Times and NPR.

The new name came from discussions with 27 tribes in Montana, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota who have connections to the land that makes up Yellowstone. "We all agreed 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," Chief Stan Grier of the Piikani Nation tells the AP. "We heard our Blackfeet sisters' screams," Blackfeet Tribal member Tom Rodgers, an adviser on the Rocky Mountain Tribal Council, tells CNN. "We heard their cry for justice. We sought justice." And "it has taken far, far too long for this journey of healing to arrive."

Doane—who also fought against Native Americans in the Great Sioux War of 1876, the Nez Pearce War of 1877, and the Apache campaign of 1886, per Fox News—boasted of the massacre "for the rest of his life," according to the National Park Service. In announcing the removal of the "offensive name," it noted "Yellowstone may consider changes to other derogatory or inappropriate names in the future." This comes amid a wider effort to erase derogatory terms from geographic features and better honor indigenous contributions under the country's first Indigenous cabinet secretary, the Interior Department's Deb Haaland. Earlier this year, her department announced the offensive term "squaw" would be removed from 660 geographic sites. (More Yellowstone National Park stories.)

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