Environment | National | Politics

Chief Arvol Looking Horse pushes name change for sacred site






A view of Mahto Tipila, or Bear Lodge, in Wyoming. Photo from Facebook

Chief Arvol Looking Horse, a spiritual leader of the Sioux Nation, is hoping President Barack Obama will restore the original name of a sacred site in Wyoming.

Devils Tower comes from a mistranslation of the Lakota term for Mahto Tipila, or Bear Lodge. Looking Horse wants Obama to issue an executive order to acknowledge the original designation, similar to the one he took when he restored the Native name of Denali in Alaska.

“Our name change proposal was submitted because from the formal naming of the national monument in 1906, both white and Native American historians have consistently stated that this site is considered a holy mountain and that this name is both incorrect and perceived as derogatory,” Looking Horse said in a statement to The Casper Star-Tribune.

But Republican members of Congress from Wyoming have effectively blocked any potential changes. They introduced S.2039 and H.R.3527 last week to keep the current designation.

Even if the measure never advances, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names can't move forward with Looking Horse's proposal. The agency's policy prevents consideration of any changes while legislation is pending on Capitol Hill.

Looking Horse's request only addresses the designation of Mahto Tipila and the nearby populated area. The name of Devils Tower National Monument itself can only be changed by an act of Congress, the National Park Service noted in June.

Get the Story:
Native Americans want name change for Wyoming's Devils Tower (Reuters 9/22)
Bill before Congress blocks Devils Tower name change (The Casper Star-Tribune 9/20)

Related Stories:
Comment sought on potential change to name of Devils Tower (6/23