Native American tribes are organizing a protest in favor of changing the names of two Yellowstone National Park features.
Leaders with the Blackfoot Confederacy and Great Sioux Nation contend both Hayden Valley and Mount Doane are named after men who advocated and executed the slaughter of Native Americans.
“America’s first national park should no longer have features named after the proponents and exponents of genocide, as is the case with Hayden Valley and Mount Doane,” the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council, said in a December 2014 resolution that asked federal official to rename the areas. “It must be remembered that Yellowstone was a homeland, a sacred cultural landscape to twenty-six tribes, before it was a National Park. However, a visitor to Yellowstone today would not know that, due to the lack of cultural interpretation.”
The Associated Press reports they are asking that Hayden Valley be renamed Buffalo Nations Valley. Hayden Valley is named after Ferdinand Hayden who led the first federally funded geological survey into the Yellowstone area. His subsequent report is credited as instrumental in convincing Congress to establish Yellowstone National Park. The tribes contend that Hayden also called for eradicating American Indians.
They also argue Mount Doane should be renamed due to U.S. Army Lt. Gustavus Doane’s participation the in the 1870 Marias Massacre.
The U.S. Army killed roughly 200 members of a friendly band of Piegan Blackfeet Indians. Those killed were mostly women, children, and elderly men.
The tribes go on to say that Doane boasted about the slaughter in an 1889 letter to become superintendent of Yellowstone National Park. “I was the first and last man in [the] Piegan camp January 23, 1870,” Doane wrote in the letter. “Greatest slaughter of Indians ever made by U.S. Troops…”
The issue of controversial monuments and names has become particularly important in light of the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The gathering will take place on September 16th at Yellowstone's North Entrance near Gardiner, Montana.