I’m grateful to have joined several hundred Native people and their allies at History Colorado last Friday to celebrate the substantial progress made toward removing the name “Evans” from the Denver area’s most prominent 14er and renaming it “Mount Blue Sky.”
I respected the deference shown by and to different Native entities represented: the Northern Cheyenne (Montana), the Northern Arapaho (Wyoming), the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes (Oklahoma), and the Ute Mountain Ute (Colorado). I’m especially thankful for the hard work of the Mestaa’ehehe Coalition, which coordinated the Mount Blue Sky campaign in partnership with the tribes and others. It made me happy, too, to hear friends be recognized for helping fuel the effort. After the Blue Sky celebration’s prayers, drum circle songs, and remarks from dignitaries, I joined other attendees at a banquet that featured very tender buffalo meat.
During the ceremony, I couldn’t help but thinking, “This is what community looks like.” It’s a reality where truth, even and especially hard truths, and respect and generosity and hospitality coexist side by side.
In case you’re wondering, “Mestaa’ahehe” means “Owl Woman.” She was a prominent Cheyenne woman who lived in the 1800s. The derogatory past name of a Front Range mountain was changed to Mestaa’ahehe in 2021. I can’t wait until the name of the 14er that overshadows “Mestaa’ehehe” is officially changed, too. The Cheyenne and Arapaho nations, especially, shouldn’t have to be reminded of someone who helped perpetrate a terrible massacre against their people — leading to their ultimate displacement from their Colorado homelands — every time they hear this beautiful and iconic mountain referenced.