New state advisory board will bring inclusivity to place names

By: - July 2, 2020 4:35 pm

Summit Lake at Mount Evans. (

A new state advisory board will help bring “inclusivity and transparency” to the naming of geological points and landmarks, according to a press release from the office of Gov. Jared Polis.

The board, called the Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board and created by executive order, will evaluate proposals for new names, name changes, and “name controversies” related to geographic features and other public places in the state. Board members will make recommendations to the governor, though final authority for the names that go on federal maps rests with the United States Board on Geographic Names.

“This new board will play a critical role in the ongoing celebration of our Colorado history through place names and ensure that we have inclusivity and transparency around the naming process,” Polis said in the press release.

The board will include up to 15 representatives appointed by the governor. The suggested membership as described in the executive order includes two people with “a background in race or ethnic studies or who are from an institution of cultural learning that focuses on traditionally underrepresented or displaced communities.” Membership also includes a representative from the Colorado Commission for Indian Affairs.

“This bi-partisan 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,” Polis said in the release.

Places named for people who committed offensive acts have come under increasing scrutiny as Americans, especially amid recent protests over the killing of an unarmed Black man, George Floyd, by Minneapolis police, reconsider the legacy of namesakes. Some Coloradans for years have lobbied to change the name of Mount Evans, for example. The mountain is named for John Evans, who played a role in the Sand Creek Massacre.

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