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Who Was Yellowstone Mountain’s Namesake Gustavus C. Doane?

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Gustavus C. Doane, who was unpopular among Native Americans, had a mountain in Yellowstone named after him. Nearly 150 years later, tribal leaders want that name changed. But who was Doane?

Doane was born in 1840 in Illinois, but his family migrated to Missouri, Oregon, and then California. Lt. Doane had early careers in the military, business and politics. Most of his ventures had bombed.

By age 28, in 1868, he again became a military officer. After a year of training and scouting at Fort McPherson, Nebraska and Fort D.A. Russell, Wyoming, Doane’s cavalry unit was sent to Fort Ellis in Montana Territory.

Doane took command of Company F, 2nd Cavalry in 1869.  In 1870, Doane’s Company attacked a non-hostile Blackfoot Indian camp along the Marias River. The attack was a response to an alleged murder of a white fur trader also known as the Marias Massacre.

Doane provided military escorts, assisting Ferdinand Hayden’s 1871 survey of the region that became Yellowstone National Park in 1872. Hayden told Congress that if natives of the land would not change to agricultural pursuits, they should be exterminated.

Doane is tributed with a peak in the Absaroka mountains with his namesake in Yellowstone. Doane Mountain is a 10,551-foot peak. It was officially named by the Hayden Geological Survey of 1871.

You can vote in our poll here on whether or not you think the name of Doane Mountain should be changed.

Many old west landmark names still prevail. We are not proud of certain negative actions today, including some committed by our presidents. But how does America right the wrongs of the past? That is a question we may not ever fully answer.

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