Controversial Mountain Inches Closer To New Name

May 30, 2019

A prominent feature of Yellowstone National Park is one step closer to getting a new name. Thursday, the Wyoming Board of Geographic Names voted in favor of changing Mount Doane to First Peoples Mountain.

In 2017, several Native American tribes formally petitioned for the change because the name celebrates Army Lieutenant Gustavus Doane. More than a century ago, he led a violent massacre of nearly 200 men, women and children of the Piikani Tribe.

The board voted 6 to 2 to change the mountain's name. Vice Chairman Jack Studley was one of the two votes against the renaming.

"The purpose of the board of geographic names, both Wyoming and the U.S. Board, is not to correct injustices," he explained. "Our purpose is to evaluate whether or not the name that has been applied to that geographic feature was an individual who had a significant impact upon the area."

The board was also asked to consider renaming Yellowstone's Hayden Valley. It was named after one of the park's first surveyors, Ferdinand Hayden, who compiled a geological survey that called for the extermination of American Indians. The vote to retain that name was seven to one.

Whether or not Mount Doane is renamed the First Peoples Mountain is ultimately up to the U.S. Board of Geographic Names. But the local decision will be taken into the final consideration.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUER in Salt Lake City, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.