Image credit: First Peoples Mountain (center) rises between Top Notch Peak (foreground) and Mount Stevenson (back right). NPS/JACOB W. FRANK

Fall 2022

Naming Right

By Nicolas Brulliard

Introducing First Peoples Mountain.

Mount Doane, a mountain in Yellowstone National Park whose name was deeply offensive to local Tribes, was recently renamed First Peoples Mountain — years after Native advocates first started pushing for the change.

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The 10,551-foot peak in the southeastern part of the park was previously named after Gustavus Cheyney Doane, a U.S. Army officer who played a big part in a raid on a camp of Piegan Blackfeet in the Montana Territory in 1870 that resulted in the deaths of around 200 people — mostly women, elderly men and children. Doane never expressed public remorse for his actions. Instead, he bragged about his role in what became known as the Marias Massacre when later in life he applied — unsuccessfully — for the position of Yellowstone superintendent.

The application for the name change, which was presented to the National Park Service in 2017, originally met resistance from local officials, but the proposal gained traction as a wave of statue removals and place name changes swept through the nation. “The country is coming to a reckoning with history,” said Tom Rodgers — also known as One Who Rides His Horse East — a member of the Blackfeet Nation who worked on the campaign to rename Mount Doane. “It’s not revenge. It’s a reckoning.”

The name change was supported by the Park Service and approved unanimously in June by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, the final arbiter in place name questions. “Now we can begin to really heal from all these deaths,” Rodgers said.

About the author

  • Nicolas Brulliard Senior Editor

    Nicolas is a journalist and former geologist who joined NPCA in November 2015. He writes and edits online content for NPCA and serves as senior editor of National Parks magazine.

This article appeared in the Fall 2022 issue

National Parks, our award-winning quarterly magazine, is an exclusive benefit of membership in the National Parks Conservation Association.

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