The Trustees of Reservations have changed the names of a trail and peak on popular Monument Mountain in Great Barrington after deeming them offensive.
The nonprofit conservation organization has renamed the mountain’s Indian Monument Trail “Mohican Monument Trail” and Squaw Peak “Peeskawso Peak.” Peeskawso means virtuous woman in the Mohican language.
“These changes were discussed at great length and approved by the Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohicans who collaborated with The Trustees for more than a year in general acknowledgement that the term ‘Indian’ is considered offensive, and ‘squaw’ is an ethnic and sexist slur,” the Trustees wrote in a press release Friday.
“Being able to rename these areas in our homelands is a great honor but also an opportunity to take back our history and to right a wrong,” Heather Bruegl, director of cultural affairs for the Stockbridge Munsee Community, said in a statement. “By removing offensive language, it gives us an opportunity to correct the historical narrative.”
After consulting Stockbridge-Munsee leaders, the Trustees will also focus on the history of the Indigenous people who called the property home rather than the famous mountain visit by 19th century authors Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville in 1850, according to the Trustees. The organization will install new signage to reflect the changes later this month.
“We are immeasurably grateful to the Stockbridge Munsee Community for helping us set the record straight by reevaluating the language and historical perspective at Monument Mountain,” said Brian Cruey, director of southern Berkshires properties for the Trustees, in a statement. “Making our properties more inclusive and accessible so all of our visitors feel welcome is at the heart of our mission, and we realize that entails listening, learning, and making changes.”
The Trustees says it made another change suggested by the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohicans at The Mission House in nearby Stockbridge several years ago. The 1742 property built by Rev. John Sergeant, a minister who established a religious mission among the Mohicans, now features a display written from the tribal members’ perspective rather than the white colonists.
The Trustees said it has formed an internal committee and developed a review process to examine the names and tributes at its 120 natural and historic properties across the state.
Last year, Monument Mountain was named among the most beautiful sights in the U.S. by USA Today.
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