WASHINGTON D.C. – In a concerted effort to redress historical wrongs and honor Native American heritage, four members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation have introduced legislation to rename the Mount Evans Wilderness Area to the “Mount Blue Sky Wilderness Area.” This initiative follows a September decision by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names to rename the iconic mountain located in Clear Creek County, a decision supported last November by the Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board and Governor Jared Polis.
According to the original report by Colorado Politics, U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet introduced the bill, while U.S. Representatives Joe Neguse and Brittany Pettersen have also expressed their support for the legislation. A joint statement issued by the lawmakers clarified that only Congress has the authority to change the name of a wilderness area.
The legislation is slated for a hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining on October 25, a committee of which Senator Hickenlooper is a member. “Renaming Mount Evans to Mount Blue Sky helped to honor and recognize the Tribes and advocates who worked hard to create change,” said Hickenlooper. “Now, renaming the wilderness area the peak overlooks is the logical next step—one we’re honored to spearhead.”
Senator Bennet echoed similar sentiments, emphasizing the importance of the name change in recognizing the atrocities committed against Native peoples. “This legislation to rename the surrounding wilderness area is an important next step to reaffirm our commitment to Tribes and honor their legacy,” he said.
The initiative has the support of the Arapaho and Southern Cheyenne tribes, though it is met with opposition from the Northern Cheyenne, who had advocated for a different name—Mount Cheyenne Arapaho. The original name of the mountain was in honor of 2nd Territorial Governor John Evans, who was implicated in the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre, a tragedy involving the killing of 230 peaceful Cheyenne women, children, and elders by Colorado troops.
Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal Governor Reggie Wassana expressed gratitude and support for the initiative. “We thank all the Colorado Congressional members for introducing the bill to help restore the wilderness area to a respectful and proper name,” he said. The proposed name of Mount Blue Sky pays homage to the Cheyenne people, whose annual renewal of life ceremony is called Blue Sky, and the Arapaho people, also known as the Blue Sky People.
With its profound cultural and historical implications, the name change represents more than just a renaming. It embodies a collective aspiration for remembrance, honor, and healing, striving to correct a historical narrative marred by past atrocities. The legislation is formally known as Measure S. 3044.