Yellowstone peak renamed First Peoples Mountain

Jun 13, 2022, 4:50 PM
yellowstone peak renamed...
First Peoples Mountain (center) rises between Top Notch Peak (foreground) and Mt. Stevenson (back right) seen from Avalanche Peak Photo credit: NPS / Jacob W. Frank
(back right)

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK — You’ve probably seen First Peoples Mountain nestled between Top Notch Peak and Mt. Stevenson if you stopped somewhere along U.S. 20 or U.S. 14 on your drive around Yellowstone Lake.

But it’s likely that when you saw it last, it was named Mt. Doane. The Yellowstone peak was renamed on June 9, 2022, by a unanimous vote of the U.S. Board of Geographic Names.

The National Park Service said the Yellowstone peak was named after a member of an expeditionary group touring the Yellowstone area in 1870. Together, Gustavus Doane, Surveyor-General Henry D. Washburn, and Montana politician and businessman Nathaniel P. Langford explored Tower Fall, Yellowstone Lake, and the Lower, Midway, and Upper geyser basins. The men reportedly climbed peaks, descended into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and tried to measure and analyze many of Yellowstone’s most prominent — and now famous — features.

Doane, Gustavus Cheyney, 1840-1892. Image from Wikimedia Commons
unknown – Public Domain

Their expedition is described as the first systematic exploration of present-day Yellowstone National Park.

But, Doane’s participation in the Yellowstone expedition of 1870 was preceded by an attack he led as a second lieutenant in the Second U.S. Cavalry. The National Park Service cites research showing that in the same year he began his Yellowstone journey, Doane led an attack that is now known as the Marias Massacre.

According to the Montana Historical Society, U.S. Army troops, including Doane, attacked a camp of Indigenous Piegan Blackfeet. They reportedly killed more than 170 people as they slept. Montana officials report that many of those who were killed were sick with smallpox, most of them women, children, and the elderly.

The National Park Service reports that Doane would write and speak fondly about his participation in this attack for the remainder of his life.

After receiving no opposition to the change from tribes associated with the area of Yellowstone National Park, and based on recommendations from the Rocky Mountain Tribal Council, the name ‘First Peoples Mountain’ was given to the U.S. Board of Geographic Names ahead of a unanimous vote in early June 2022.

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Yellowstone peak renamed First Peoples Mountain