History | June 14, 2022 1:53 pm

Yellowstone Renames One of Its Mountains

As part of further efforts to reconcile with Indigenous peoples, Yellowstone National Park has changed the name of a 10,551-foot peak

Bison migrate out of Yellowstone National Park
Bison migrate out of Yellowstone National Park
Matt Anderson Photography via Getty

Doane no more. 

Yellowstone National Park announced today that the peak once known as Doane Mountain would be renamed First Peoples Mountain, after a 15-0 vote in favor of the change by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. 

Renaming the mountain, which stands at 10,551-feet, was named for U.S. Army Captain Gutavus Doane, who was a member of the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition, which explored Yellowstone in 1870. Captain Doane had previously led an attack against the Piegan Blackfeet Tribe earlier in 1870, where “at least 173 Native Americans” were murdered. 

In a press release from the National Parks Service, they wrote that “Doane wrote fondly about this attack and bragged about it for the rest of his life.”

Indigenous people in the area have petitioned for the name change for years, with one member telling CNN that “It has taken far too long for this journey of healing to arrive.” In an interview with Smithsonian Magazine, Shane Doyle, a member of the Apsaalooke (Crow) Nation, called the park itself “a slap in the face to Native people…There is almost no mention of the dispossession and violence that happened. We have essentially been erased from the park.”

Yellowstone sits on the traditional lands of many Indigenous peoples, including the Kiowa, Blackfeet, Cayuse, Coeur d’Alene Nez, Shoshone and Perce tribes. Renaming First Peoples Mountain is one part in a broader shift to decolonize the language we use, including place names that use racist terminology, or that are associated with acts of violence. Piikani Nation Chief Stan Grier said that the name change would serve to “remind people of the 10,000-year-plus connection tribal peoples have to this sacred place now called Yellowstone.”