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Names of Yellowstone features being challenged

Sep 13, 2017 By Mead Gruver, Associated Press

CHEYENNE (AP) -- Two tribes plan to demonstrate in favor of renaming a valley and a mountain in Yellowstone National Park, places they say are associated with one man who advocated slaughter of American Indians and another who carried it out.

Leaders of the Blackfoot Confederacy and Great Sioux Nation will gather Saturday at Yellowstone's North Entrance near Gardiner, Montana, tribal officials said Tuesday.

The tribes seek to change the name of Hayden Valley, a subalpine valley just north of Yellowstone Lake, to Buffalo Nations Valley. They want to change the name of Mount Doane, a 10,550-foot (3,216-meter) peak five miles east of the lake, to First People's Mountain.

Efforts to change place names and remove monuments to controversial figures in U.S. history have gained momentum since white supremacists opposed to taking down a statute of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee clashed in August with counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Other renaming efforts have been going on for years. Elsewhere in Wyoming, tribes seek to change Devils Tower, the name of an 870-foot (265-meter) volcanic mesa in the first U.S. national monument, to Bear Lodge. Devils Tower is the name white settlers gave the feature. Bear Lodge is what the Lakota, Crow, Cheyenne and other tribes call the formation important if not sacred to their cultures. Other tribes have different names for it, including Buffalo Horn and Tree Rock.

The best-known success in renaming activism is Denali, the tallest mountain in North America. Two years ago both the National Park Service and National Geogrpahic Society opted to recognizes the mountain formally as Denali. It had been known as Mount McKinley prior to that.

In Yellowstone, Hayden Valley is named for Ferdinand Hayden, a geologist whose explorations inspired the park's establishment in 1872 but who also called for exterminating American Indians who wouldn't acquiesce to becoming farmers and ranchers.

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2017-09-24

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