WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet, and Representatives Joe Neguse and Brittany Pettersen, introduced legislation to change the name of Colorado’s Mount Evans Wilderness to the Mount Blue Sky Wilderness. The change aligns with the U.S. Board of Geographic Names’ recent decision to officially rename Mount Evans to Mount Blue Sky. Only Congress can authorize a change to the wilderness area name.
The legislation is scheduled to receive a hearing before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining on Wednesday, October 25.
“Renaming Mount Evans to Mount Blue Sky helped to honor and recognize the Tribes and advocates who worked hard to create change,” said Hickenlooper. “Now, renaming the wilderness area the peak overlooks is the logical next step–one we’re honored to spearhead.”
“Tribes and local communities led the process to rename Mount Blue Sky – an important step to address the atrocities committed against the Cheyenne & Arapaho people,” said Bennet. “This legislation to rename the surrounding wilderness area is an important next step to reaffirm our commitment to Tribes and honor their legacy.”
“I am proud to join Senators Hickenlooper and Bennet in introducing this critical bill to rename this important wilderness area as the Mount Blue Sky Wilderness, taking another step forward in our work to honor the histories of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes. The Mount Blue Sky Wilderness Act is a reflection of our dedication to remembrance, honor, and healing,” said Neguse.
“Communities and tribes across Colorado have been working for years to get Mount Evans renamed to Mount Blue Sky,” said Pettersen. “Their determination and commitment have finally come to fruition. The renaming of the mountain and now, with our bill, the surrounding wilderness area, are a powerful symbol of healing and unity. Mount Blue Sky is more than just a name—it is a way to honor the Cheyenne and Arapaho peoples whose ancestors were the victims of the Sand Creek Massacre. I’m proud to join the coalition who made this meaningful change possible.”
“The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes are excited about the introduction of the name change of Mt. Evans Wilderness Area. We thank all the Colorado Congressional members for introducing the bill to help restore the wilderness area to a respectful and proper name,” said the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal Governor Reggie Wassana.
“The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes have long pursued the effort to rename Mount Blue Sky and its surrounding wilderness, backed by a groundswell of local support,” said Jim Ramey, The Wilderness Society’s Colorado State Director. “No wilderness area, stream or mountain should offend, hurt or cause harm to any Coloradan. Let this wilderness area, with Mount Blue Sky at its heart, be a place of healing, comfort and progress. This legislation is a sign of that progress. We thank Senator Hickenlooper and Representative Neguse for their commitment to inclusivity and fairness across all public lands and urge Congress to take up this bill quickly.”
Currently, the wilderness area is named for the second territorial Governor of Colorado John Evans, who paved the way for Colorado’s Sand Creek Massacre. On November 29, 1864, U.S. soldiers killed 230 Cheyenne and Arapaho people at Sand Creek — most of them women, children, and the elderly.
The proposed new name recognizes the Cheyenne people, whose annual ceremony of renewal of life is called Blue Sky, and the Arapaho people, who are also known as the Blue Sky People.
The proposal to rename the mountain was first proposed by the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes and The Wilderness Society, and has continued to gain support from Tribes, local governments, community groups, and non-profit organizations.
View a one pager on the bill, here.