Seven groups on Tuesday asked the American Board of Geographical Names to rename three geographic locations in Montana now named in honor of Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War, and to change them in honor of the indigenous peoples and Chinese immigrants.
A petition was submitted by the Montana Racial Equity Project, the Montana Human Rights Network, the Forward Montana Foundation, the Mai Wah Society, the Montana Wilderness Association, the Wilderness Society, and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT).
These locations include Davis Gulch, just south of the city limits of Helena in Lewis and Clark County, and Jeff Davis Peak and Jeff Davis Creek, located in the southern part of the Bitterroot Range.
The groups noted that Davis, who served as confederation president from 1861 to 1865, was a strong advocate of slavery and white supremacy.
“Montana deserves better than having three geographic features named in recognition of a white supremacist who, in his defense of slavery, led to the deaths of three-quarters of a million Americans,” the petition says.
The petition quotes him as saying, “African slavery, as it exists in the United States, is a moral, social and political blessing.”
The petition states that instead of recognizing “ a white supremacist who tried to tear this country apart, the names proposed will honor the people who have helped us come together and rise up, as a state and as a people. These regions were first inhabited by Native Americans representing many tribal nations. We propose to honor Native Americans for whom these lands retain great cultural significance, as well as Chinese immigrants who have not been recognized for their work in Montana. ”