Many advocate altering the title of Squaw Mountain to “Mestaa’ėhehe” – CBS Denver

CLEAR CREEK COUNTY, Colorado (CBS4) – It is a beacon between the rising mountains of the foothills. From parts of Denver, it’s easy to see the green-capped mountains tower over to those that tower above the tree line. Squaw Mountain isn’t that high, reaching nearly 11,500 feet, with cellular and satellite communication towers, as well as power poles and lines leading there.

It still has some beauty and majesty from its top, and it can be seen from the old fire tower that is rented out to guests.

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(Credit: CBS)

The Northern Cheyenne Tribe suggests dropping the name and the ugliness they believe is associated with it.

“The term ‘squaw’ was used as a derogatory or dehumanizing word for local women,” said Teanna Limpy, tribal commissioner for the preservation of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, based in Montana.

The tribe applied for a name change. “Squaw” is an offensive term in their opinion.

“It got popular, probably because of the Indian Wars and the hatred of the indigenous people, I think. And one way to conquer nations is to conquer the women and children, ”she added.

It is by definition a term with an inherently sexual origin that is used to describe a female part of the body.

(Credit: George Levi of Cheyenne & Arapahoe Tribes of Oklahoma)

“None of the things that have to do with our journey through our people are women, children, or warriors,” said Limpy. “That is just a foreign word.”

Instead, the tribe want the name of the mountain changed to reflect that of a Cheyenne hero. Mestaa’ėhehe, who some called “owl woman”. Mestaa’ėhehe lived between 1810 and 1847 and married William Bent from the family after which Bent’s Fort is named. There she interpreted and smoothed the relationships between people.

“She was one of the three daughters of the holy arrow guardian, who is one of our alliances with the Cheyenne people,” explained Limpy.

Meetings were held in Clear Creek County, where the mountain is located, about the possible name change.

“At the meetings, practically all of the comments we had were in favor of change,” said Commissioner Randy Wheelock.

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The majority of written communications also endorsed the change. Some who came to meetings had new ideas about the name Squaw Mountain.

“When you hear the story, when you feel the pain of the advocates who came to us to talk about their lives and how they were influenced by that word, by this story, there was no doubt,” said Wheelock. “We live for the most part on stolen land. We live in other people’s homes and it’s our job to realize that, and it’s our job to take a step back and let them tell us that. “

(Credit: CBS)

The Commission approved the proposal in June.

“She’s a great testimony to being a woman, a great testimony to being a peacemaker, and a great example of how things might have been done instead of how they evolved over time,” said Wheelock. “She learned different languages. She was a good negotiator. She coordinated the trade. She was basically like a queen of the trade, “Limpy said.

The Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board held a public meeting this week to hear from stakeholders and the public. It brought emotional words from some like Native American Jan Iron.

“To know that this mountain with that name has been desecrated makes me really sad.”

The board took note of the testimony and another meeting could take place in September. If the board approves the change, it goes to the US Board on Geographic Names, which in most cases approves the state proposals and changes names.

Wheelock feels like he has learned something.

“It is you who educate us. It is you who tell us about your life, how it feels for you, your past and your story. “

Limpy looks forward to seemingly good opportunities for change.

“It’s about time I would say.”

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Learn how to pronounce Mestaa’ėhehe.

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