Commissioners seeking public input on Mount Evans renaming petitions

Corinne Westeman
cwesteman@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 1/26/22

The five petitions to rename Mount Evans will likely be considered by state and federal officials later this year, and Clear Creek County has been asked to weigh in on whether and which petitions it supports.

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Commissioners seeking public input on Mount Evans renaming petitions

Posted

The five petitions to rename Mount Evans will likely be considered by state and federal officials later this year, and Clear Creek County has been asked to weigh in on whether and which petitions it supports.

As it did with the Mestaa’ehehe Mountain petition, the Clear Creek Board of County Commissioners plans to host educational and public-comment meetings before determining its official stance.

Anyone is welcome to send written public comment about the issue at any time, the commissioners clarified.

During a Jan. 18 meeting, Commissioner Randy Wheelock said the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, the state naming advisory board, and the U.S. Forest Service have all asked what Clear Creek County’s position is on the five petitions.

Mount Blue Sky would honor the Arapaho and Cheyenne peoples. The Arapaho were known as the Blue Sky People among other tribes, and the Cheyenne have an annual renewal of life ceremony called Blue Sky. The Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes and conservation-focused nonprofit The Wilderness Society support this petition.

Mount Cheyenne-Arapaho would honor the tribes who once called Colorado home and who were devastated by the Sand Creek Massacre. The Northern Cheyenne Tribe supports this petition, according to Wheelock.

Mount Rosalie was the name Albert Bierstadt, a landscape painter and the peak’s first-known summiter, gave the mountain in honor of his future wife. It was the mountain’s unofficial name until 1895. The name Rosalie was given to a nearby peak after the mountain was renamed for Evans.

Mount Soule would be in honor of U.S. Army Captain Silas Soule, who refused to participate in the Sand Creek Massacre.

Wheelock added that the fifth petition is to leave the peak as Mount Evans, but to redesignate its namesake as another member of the Evans family.

He suggested hosting a meeting in mid-February or early March for each petition’s proponents to explain their stance and answer the commissioners’ questions.

After this educational meeting, Wheelock recommended the county host a town hall for people to

submit public comment. He said this meeting should be on a weeknight to ensure that Evans’ descendants, tribal representatives, people who live near Mount Evans, and other county residents could easily voice their opinions.

Then the commissioners would decide Clear Creek County’s official position at a regular meeting in the spring.

Wheelock said the board could take any of the five stances:

Neutral;

Opposed to change;

Supportive of change;

Supportive of indigenous-based petitions but not taking sides; or

Supportive of a specific petition.

Based on his discussions with state officials, Wheelock said the state naming advisory board hopes to take up the Mount Evans issue in late summer or early fall.

Commissioner George Marlin thought Wheelock’s outline sounded reasonable, because of its similarity to what Clear Creek did last year for the Mestaa’ehehe Mountain petition.

Commissioner Sean Wood noted a major difference — the Mestaa’ehehe Mountain petition was the only one to rename that peak. The Mount Evans discussion involves five petitions, and he believed there will be a great amount of public interest in the process.

Wood felt that hosting meetings to educate residents and hear their opinions would be “an exercise worth doing.” He also recommended that educational materials from the county’s Mestaa’ehehe Mountain discussion be shared online before the Mount Evans one.

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