Fed­eral board re­names ‘Ne­gro Bill’ Canyon

The Washington Post - - NEWS -

Af­ter years of de­bate, a U.S. govern­ment board has voted to re­name Utah’s Ne­gro Bill Canyon, over­rul­ing a rec­om­men­da­tion by Utah of­fi­cials to keep the name.

The U.S. Board on Geo­graphic Names de­cided Thurs­day to re­name it Grand­staff Canyon to get rid of an of­fen­sive name, the Salt Lake Tri­bune re­ports. The vote was 12 to 0, with one mem­ber de­clin­ing to vote.

The new name hon­ors black rancher and prospec­tor Wil­liam Grand­staff, whose cat­tle grazed there in the 1870s.

“His name was Grand­staff; it was not Ne­gro Bill,” said WendiS­tarr Brown, a mem­ber of the fed­eral board, who is Na­tive Amer­i­can. “I’m pretty sure that’s not how he wanted to be ad­dressed in life.”

The Utah Com­mit­tee on Geo­graphic Names had rec­om­mended keep­ing the name, cit­ing a lack of con­sen­sus from state mi­nor­ity groups.

The canyon is home to a pop­u­lar hik­ing spot in Moab, the gate­way to stun­ning, mas­sive red rock for­ma­tions.

Spurred by com­plaints from tourists, the Grand County Coun­cil voted in Jan­uary to change the name af­ter re­fus­ing to do so in 2013 and 2015.

A year ago, the fed­eral Bu­reau of Land Man­age­ment changed signs to say “Grand­staff Trail­head” in­stead of “Ne­gro Bill” trail­head.

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