Arapaho Placenames in Colorado: Indigenous Mapping, White Remaking Journal Article uri icon



  • AbstractIndigenous Arapaho placenames for the area around the present Rocky Mountain National Park have been recovered through archival research. Those names reveal a clear pattern of naming on the landscape. Human-use and human-history-oriented names occur especially often in the lowland valleys, while mountain peaks tend to be named with reference to sacred and mythological aspects of Arapaho traditional culture. The Arapaho. toponymically occupied the lowlands with their own presence, while leaving the highlands ontologically more distant and “exotic.” Ironically, the same pattern of naming occurred when Euro-American conservationists began recording and assigning Arapaho names to the landscape as they struggled to establish Rocky Mountain National Park and draw tourists, with sacred Arapaho names being selected for their exoticism and assigned to mountain locations while virtually all traces of Arapaho use and history in the area were removed in the lowlands and replaced by Euro- American names.The naming process also reveals interesting struggles between local control of naming and nationwide regulation on the part of the USGS, as well as changing perceptions of the space of Rocky Mountain National Park as a zone of resource extraction, a tourist attraction, an urban wildlands refuge, and a wilderness. The particular Arapaho names chosen (by Whites) for the landscape indirectly reflect all of these tensions.

publication date

  • March 1, 2004

has restriction

  • closed

Date in CU Experts

  • September 30, 2013 1:20 AM

Full Author List

  • Cowell A

author count

  • 1

Other Profiles

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0027-7738

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1756-2279

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 21

end page

  • 41


  • 52


  • 1