US Board of Geographic Names Formally Considers Change of Harney Peak to Black Elk Peak or Thunder Peak

The United States Board of Geographic Names formally discussion a motion on April 14, 2016, to rename Harney Peak to Black Elk Peak or Thunder Peak. The motion to do this was ulitmately withdrawn. Below are the minutes of the meeting:

IV. Revised Decisions
Change Harney Peak (BGN 1906) (FID 1261770) to Black Elk Peak or Thunder Peak, South Dakota
(Black Hills National Forest / Black Elk Wilderness) (Review Lists 419, 422)
After extensive discussion, a motion was made and seconded to approve the name Black Elk Peak in
preference to Thunder Peak, because the name Black Elk Peak appears to have more support than Thunder
Peak. It was also noted that the Forest Service, while remaining neutral on which name is chosen,
recommends that the existing name be changed.
During subsequent discussion, a member noted that it was very difficult to select one name over another
when there are clearly divided opinions. The motion was withdrawn.
A member questioned the need for a consensus in this case, noting that the BGN often deals with
differences in opinions and renders a decision regardless.
The members stated that they wished to continue discussing the various aspects of the case; however,
several of them indicated they had to leave for another meeting and that this meeting was running long. As
such, a motion was made and seconded to defer a decision.
Vote: 13 in favor
0 against
0 abstentions
Chairwoman Kanalley invited Ms. Pittman, a Policy Analyst for the U.S. Forest Service’s Office of Tribal
Relations, if she wished to comment on the matter. Pittman responded that she found the dialogue very
interesting. She suggested that the large number of responses from Minnesota to the online survey reflects
the opinions of an urban American Indian community in the Twin Cities. She also suggested that because
many reservations are not as connected to the rest of the Nation by high speed internet, it could be difficult
for many individuals to voice their opinions. To achieve a Tribal consensus, Tribes can be asked to hold
emergency sessions for resolutions, although personal contacts are typically preferred over form letters.
The BGN staff noted that it does not have the resources to conduct more personal outreach.

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