Yellowstone National Park Changes ‘Offensive Name’ of Mount Doane: Here’s Why

by Jon D. B.

152 years later, Yellowstone National Park has changed the name of Mount Doane in an effort to strike the “offensive name” from the park.

On Thursday, June 9, 2022, Yellowstone National Park (YELL) would announce Mount Doane’s new name. Its moniker for the last century-and-a-half highlights a problematic historical figure; something the park went to great lengths to change. The announcement follows a 15-0 vote affirming the change by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN).

Now, Mount Doane is officially First Peoples Mountain. The 10,551-foot peak stands east of Yellowstone Lake in Yellowstone National Park’s southeastern portion. But why change the name of a mountain that’s been in place since 1870?

Yellowstone National Park Replaces Mount Doane’s Name After Marias Massacre Research

To understand the name change, the crimes of Gustavus Doane, Mount Doane’s namesake, are paramount. The peak was named after the explorer, a key member of the Washburn-Langford-Doane expedition, in 1870. This was done prior to Yellowstone becoming America’s first national park.

Panorama of Firehole valley in Yellowstone, by Edouard Riou (1833-1900). From Scribner’s Montly, from the US National Park described by Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden (1829-1887). Gustavus Cheyney Doane (1840-1892). And Nathaniel Pitt Langford (1832-1911). (Getty Images Archives).

Further research by the park, however, has shown that Doane led what is now known as the Marias Massacre that same year. At least 173 Indigenous Americans were murdered during the massacre, including women, children, and elderly. Yellowstone’s statement on their research reads as follows:

Research has shown that earlier that same year (1870), Doane led an attack, in response to the alleged murder of a white fur trader, on a band of Piegan Blackfeet. During what is now known as the Marias Massacre, at least 173 American Indians were killed, including many women, elderly Tribal members and children suffering from smallpox. Doane wrote fondly about this attack and bragged about it for the rest of his life.

Yellowstone National Park

In light of the research, the Rocky Mountain Tribal Council would provide new naming options. And First Peoples Mountain was born.

‘Yellowstone conducted outreach to all 27 associated Tribes over the past several months and received no opposition to the change nor concerns’

The Wyoming Board of Geographic names, with support of the National Park Service, would then send the name to BGN for a vote in June 2022. For clarification, BGN is the federal body responsible for maintaining uniform geographic name usage throughout the federal government, and they do so with the full support of the National Park Service (NPS).

During the process, Yellowstone conducted outreach to all 27 associated Indigenous Tribes in order to do so. Over a period of several months, no tribes would present opposition to the change. nor concerns over the new name. Next, The Domestic Names Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) will update their listings for the mountain.

YELL’s statement officially cites removing this “offensive name from America’s first national park.”

But this renaming is just the beginning. Yellowstone “may consider changes to other derogatory or inappropriate names in the future,” their NPS statement reads.

While no timeline is available, Yellowstone National Park is likely to change all signage for the mountain promptly.

For more on Yellowstone’s history, see our An Outsider’s Quick History of the National Park Service next.