Yellowstone mountain's 'derogatory' name changed
(NEXSTAR) – Mount Doane, a mountain within Yellowstone National Park, has a new name as part of the Department of Interior’s process to remove derogatory terms from the names of federal lands.
In a November order, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, in addition to declaring “squaw” a derogatory term, kickstarted the process to review and replace derogatory names of the nation’s geographic features.
Following a 15-0 vote by the U.S. Board of Geographic Names – the federal body responsible for “maintaining uniform geographic name usage throughout the federal government” – Mount Doane becomes the latest feature to be renamed. It is now named First Peoples Mountain, the National Park Service announced.
The 10,551-foot peak found east of Yellowstone Lake in Wyoming was previously named after U.S. Army Lt. Gustavus Doane.
Who is Gustavus Doane?
Doane was born in Illinois in 1840 but grew up in California, according to Montana State University. After graduating from the University of the Pacific at Santa Clara, he enlisted in a volunteer unit known as the California Hundred. The unit was later absorbed by the Second Massachusetts Volunteer Cavalry.
In 1867, Doane became mayor of Yazoo, City, Mississippi, before becoming a second lieutenant in the Second U.S. Cavalry. For the next 24 years, Doane served with this unit and was stationed throughout Montana, California, and Arizona. Doane was part of the Washburn-Langford-Doane expedition in 1870, where he and others explored present-day Yellowstone National Park.
After a white fur trader was allegedly murdered, Doane led an attack on a band of Piegan Blackfeet, research has found. The Marias Massacre of 1870 left at least 173 American Indians dead, including women, children suffering from smallpox, and elderly Tribal members.
“Doane wrote fondly about this attack and bragged about it for the rest of his life,” NPS explained.
Doane also tried – and failed – to become superintendent of the park toward the end of his life, Montana State University reports.
Renaming Mount Doane
Following suggestions from the Rocky Mountain Tribal Council, votes within the Wyoming Board of Geographic Names, and support from NPS, the vote to rename Mount Doane was held earlier this month.
In the months leading up to the vote, Yellowstone officials spoke with 27 associated Tribes and said there was no opposition to the name First Peoples Mountain. The park may have additional features renamed to remove derogatory or inappropriate names.
Piikani Nation Chief Stan Grier calls the name change “long overdue.”
According to the Board of Geographic Names, there are 17 other geographic features with ‘Doane’ in their name, including Doane Peak in Grand Teton National Park. Not all of the sites are named after Gustavus Doane, though, like Sam Doane Mountain in North Carolina.
“Words matter, particularly in our work to make our nation’s public lands and waters accessible and welcoming to people of all backgrounds. Consideration of these replacements is a big step forward in our efforts to remove derogatory terms whose expiration dates are long overdue,” Haaland said earlier this year.
Both the Secretary of the Interior and the Board on Geographic Names have previously nixed other derogatory terms. In the 1960s and 70s, derogatory terms related to Black and Japanese people were eliminated.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.