Bald Eagle Peak
Fairholme Range mountains at Johnson Lake Banff National Park, near the newly named Bald Eagle Peak. (Reimar/Shutterstock)

Famed Rocky Mountain Peak Renamed To Erase Its Racist Past and Honor Its Indigenous Roots

As if being crass and vulgar weren’t bad enough, the Rocky Mountain peak known as “Squaw’s T–” also has a long and racist history dating back decades. Located near the summit of Mount Charles Stewart in the Alberta, Canada side of the Rocky Mountains, the range has now officially been given a traditional name honoring its Indigenous history.

Sarah Rieger of Canada’s CBC News reported that “the formation, visible from the mountain town of Canmore, will now be known by its original Stoney Nakoda name, Anû Kathâ Îpa, or Bald Eagle Peak.”

It was previously known by its racist and sexist nickname since the 1920s. According to Rieger, “Chief Aaron Young of Chiniki First Nation said his daughter voiced anger at the mountain’s ‘shameful and derogatory’ name for years.” 

“Today, we will certainly honor our women. … It is on behalf of them that I stand here today with our council and elders to give thanks to our creator for guiding us in the naming of Bald Eagle Peak, Anû Kathâ Îpa,” Young told the gathered crowd at the renaming ceremony in front of the peak. “A racist and sexist term has finally been cast aside. The Stoney people are grateful.”

Local history experts said the mountain feature was originally named Bald Eagle Peak because of its proximity to several traditional eagle migratory routes. Because the birds frequented the area each year, it was once common for locals to gather there and collect feathers.

According to Rieger, “the peak was renamed during a ceremony with Stoney Nakoda elders last year, but Monday’s announcement marked the official change — meaning the landmark will be updated on provincial and federal place-name databases and maps.”

Indigenous rights advocates cheered the renaming, pointing out that while the original first word in the peak’s slang name once simply meant woman, it has since become a disparaging term that’s harmful to Indigenous populations and women in particular.

According to park officials, another similarly offensively named mountain in Banff National Park is also currently in the process of being renamed.

“Sadly, sometimes the common names given to places are inappropriate and offensive, even an embarrassment to use,” Alberta Culture Minister Ron Orr told CBC News. “We’re correcting the official record for two of those places.”

 

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