Yellowstone Park has just renamed one of its largest peaks to the First Peoples Mountains. The United States’ first national park decided to rename the peak after discovering the man the mountain was named after actually help lead a massacre against local tribes.
The 10,551-foot high peak formerly known as Mount Doane was renamed First Peoples Mountain as part of Yellowstone’s 150th anniversary. William Snell, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council, said, “It is a victory, yes. Is history being rewritten and retold truthfully? I hope so.” His group assisted in advising federal officials on the peak’s name change.
Snell stated in an email that the peak’s change to First Peoples Mountain could not have come at a better time, especially since Yellowstone is preparing to mark the park’s anniversary which is in August.
The mountain rests along the eastern side of Yellowstone Lake. It was originally named after Gustavus Doane, who helped lead the Washburn-Langford-Doane expedition in 1870. This exploration ultimately led to the park getting federal protection.
Historians recently discovered Doane’s role in an attack on the Piegan Blackfeet tribe that left at least 173 First Americans dead. It is known as the Marias Massacre. Doane executed the assault over the murder of a white fur trader. Historians found writings where Doane cast a favorable light on the attack of the Piegan Blackfeet.
He even bragged about the massacre for the rest of his life, according to the Yellowstone National Park Service. Many of those who died in the massacre were children, elders, and women suffering from smallpox.
Last Wednesday, Piikani Nation Chief Stan Grier, stated, “This name change is long overdue. 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.”
The Piikani Nation’s traditional territory covers much of Montana, including the site of the Marias Massacre, and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, according to the Military Times.
The name change of Yellowstone’s peak came after a unanimous vote of 15 to zero from the United States Board on Geographic Name, according to the National Park Service.
Written by Sheena Robertson
Bradenton Herald: Yellowstone peak renamed after park cuts ties with explorer Doane. What to know
NPR: Yellowstone renames a mountain after the history of its prior namesake comes to light
The Military Times: Yellowstone mountain that honored Army officer who led massacre renamed