Should Colorado Mountain Peak Be Renamed Because of Massacre?
One of Colorado's most-hiked peaks is named for the Territory of Colorado's second governor John Evans, but some are suggesting the name be changed.
John Evans was appointed governor of Colorado by President Abraham Lincoln. Evans was a friend of Lincoln's and was opposed to slavery. Clearly, Evans did a lot of good things as governor like helping to establish the legal system, educational institutions, economy, and infrastructure in the territory. He was also a huge advocate for Colorado's statehood. However, Evans is, perhaps best remembered for his role in the Sand Creek Massacre in November of 1864.
The Sand Creek Massacre was one of the darkest and most horrific days in Colorado's history. Under the direction of Colonel John Chivington, approximately 150 Native Americans in a peaceful settlement were mercilessly slaughtered, many of them women, children, and the elderly. Evans is said to have recognized Chivington and his men for what he called "valor in subduing the savages." Chivington is quoted as saying:
"Damn any man who sympathizes with Indians! ... I have come to kill Indians, and believe it is right and honorable to use any means under God's heaven to kill Indians. ... Kill and scalp all, big and little..."
Almost one year later, Evans was forced to resign the governorship because of his role in the massacre and the subsequent cover-up. When you read about the history of the massacre, you quickly realize how utterly disgraceful this event truly was.
Now, across the country, Americans are on a mission to purge the nation of any semblance of racial atrocities of the past, whether it's a statue on the corner, an image on store shelves, or the name on a sign. How far do we go with this?
It would be impossible and impractical to eliminate every reference in America to an individual who has acted or spoken inappropriately or shamefully - nor would we want to. There is a huge difference between simply remembering and preserving history - and honoring those who have behaved reprehensibly.
A Reddit contributor posed the idea of changing the name of Mount Evans, which got me thinking about the issue. In this case, when presented with the facts of the Sand Creek Massacre and the response and involvement of John Evans, it would be difficult to argue against the idea of changing the name of the peak. In light of recent events in our nation and a renewed awareness of racism, bigotry, and equality, the idea seems worthy of discussion.
What do you think? Should Colorado change the name of one of its most popular mountain peaks? Or should we leave things as they are so that we can be reminded of the wrongdoings of our past? Answer the poll below and I will publish the results in a future post.