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Representative Cheney bill would preserve Devils Tower name

WASHINGTON, DC – Wyoming U.S. Representative Liz Cheney announced on Monday, a plan to reintroduce legislation to codify the name of Devils Tower National Monument. The move would follow several previous attempts to set the name in stone.

In 2014, a proposal was submitted to the Unites States Board on Geographic Names on behalf of the Lakota tribe to change the name of the monument to “Bear Lodge”, in accordance with Native American tradition.

Prior to 1901, the unique feature was referred to as “Bear Lodge” or Mato Teepee” on contemporary maps, and only in 1875 did an Army colonel translate the name as “Bad God’s Tower”, which became “Devils Tower” when the monument was proclaimed in 1906.

According to the United States Department of the Interior, neither the National Parks Service or the United States Board on Geographic Names have the legal ability to change the name, which can only be done by an act of Congress, or the President of the United States.

In 2017, Sen. Mike Enzi attempted to retain the name with Senate Bill 70, and Rep. Cheney did the same with House Resolution 401. Both pieces of legislation failed, as at the time, both the Unites States Board on Geographic Names and Wyoming Board of Geographic Names restricted any name changes until January 3, 2019.

On Monday, Cheney noted that “The name Devils Tower is over a century old and represents one of the most well-known, beloved geological features in the nation. The bill I reintroduced this Congress protects the legacy of Devils Tower by taking the first step towards codifying the name in statute. The historic site attracts tourists from across the globe and provides revenue to our state’s communities. I look forward to working with the Wyoming delegation to protect the name of this historic site.”