Gov. Jared Polis has announced the members of Colorado's Geographic Naming Advisory Board. The group will evaluate possible name changes for public monuments and places.
The board is made up of a dozen people from across the political and cultural spectrums. It includes state lawmakers, representatives from the Colorado Commission on Indian Affairs and the Center of the American West, to name a few. Historians and experts on race and ethnic studies have also been tapped.
“This collaborative group of people will bring their unique perspectives and expertise to the board and ensure we have an inclusive naming process,” Polis said in a statement to CPR News. “This work is very important because place names reflect who we were, who we are, and are of inter-generational importance moving forward.”
Spurred by rising social consciousness in the wake of protests over police killings of Black people, there's now renewed attention on fraught or racist symbols like statues, monuments, landmark names and state flags.
In response, Polis issued an executive order in early July to create an advisory board that would review and recommend name changes to things like mountains and public places.
There are three peaks in Colorado that have been petitioned for renaming: Mount Evans, Redskin Mountain, 50 miles west of Castle Rock, and Squaw Mountain near Idaho Springs.
The two petitions for Mount Evans suggest renaming Mount Cheyenne Arapaho, in honor of those who died during the Sand Creek Massacre or Mount Soule, after Capt. Silas S. Soule, who refused the order to participate in the massacre.
CPR News previously reported on which mountains have petitions for problematic names.
The Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board will work with the United States Board on Geographic Names and evaluate name change proposals and controversial names of geographic features. The board can make official recommendations to the governor, but the federal board still has the final approval for place naming of federal maps and products.
Polis previously said the new board “will ensure that a broad spectrum of Coloradans, local communities, and Colorado’s land-based Tribes can collaborate on any potential naming or renaming of Colorado geological points or landmarks.”
Here’s the full list of board members:
- Rep. Perry Will, 57th House District.
- Rep. Adrienne Benavidez, 32nd House District.
- Rep. Thomas Exum Sr., 17th House District.
- Junie Joseph, Boulder City Council member
- Richard Cimino, Grand County commissioner
- Kathryn Redhorse, executive director, Colorado Commission on Indian Affairs
- William Wei, 2019 state historian, serving as a representative of History Colorado
- Patricia Limerick, chair, Center of the American West
- Karen Ann Berry, director, Colorado Geological Survey
- Luis Benitez, former director, Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office
- Charleszine “Terry” Nelson, Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library
- Nicki Gonzales, History Colorado’s State Historian’s Council