RENAME THE GORE RANGE
THE NUCHU RANGE
On 10 April 2022 the GNAB selected “Nuchu Creek” to rename Sq* Creek in Summit County! It’s hoped that the Board’s selection of “Nuchu” will be a step towards giving the entire mountain range (from which Nuchu Creek flows) the same name.
The Time is Approaching
... when we will ask for your help in contacting the decision makers. Sometime in the next several months the Colorado Geological Naming Advisory Board (GNAB) will consider our request to rename the Gore Range to the Nuchu Range. Nuchu is the Ute word for "the people" and was selected by the Ute Tribe - read their resolution HERE. The GNAB will ask our local counties and others to weigh in. We hope you will support our campaign.
We will be asking you to send messages to them in support of the name change. It will be an easy submittal process.
It is an exciting time! After 5 years of work, we have an opportunity to right a wrong and return a bit of dignity to the original inhabitants, displaced now these past 140 years.
On Indigenous Peoples Day, 2017, Karn Stiegelmeier introduced a resolution from the Summit County Board of Commissioners (which she chaired) to rename the Gore Range to one that honored the original inhabitants of the region - the Ute Indians . And thus began a campaign that continues today. (Click HERE for photos of the ceremony.)
The motivation was driven by both a push and a pull. The push: George Gore was entirely unworthy of such a spectacular namesake. The pull: the Ute Indians and their forebears had been worthy stewards of the land for thousands of years, until their forced removal in 1881.
For several years after the introduction of the resolution, the three Ute tribes (Northern, Southern, and Ute Mountain Utes) considered candidate names, settling eventually on NUCHU, which means "the people" or "Ute" in their language.
In September, 2020, a formal request was submitted to the national USGS Board of Geographic Names, asking that the Gore Range be renamed the Nuchu Range (click HERE to read the formal request). The national USGS board in turn has asked the newly-constituted Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board to examine the request in detail, and they will hopefully recommend approval.
The request seeks to change only the name of the range, not any of the other places in Colorado with the official name "Gore," namely 3 creeks, 2 campgrounds, a trail, a pass, a canyon, and a lake. (Click for map.)
Irishman Sir George Gore visited the US from 1854 to 1857. He traveled widely on the plains of what would become Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana, with a brief side‐trip into the future states of Utah and Colorado (although never south of the Colorado River). His provisions were legendary: his fur‐lined commode and brass bedstead illustrate the extravagance that filled 30 wagons with his supplies, attended by 50 servants. His sole aim was hunting trophy game, supported by scouts, beaters, hounds, and a vast arsenal of firearms and ammunition.
Gore earned the deep animosity of both Native Americans and the US government, simultaneously. His cruel slaughter of countless game animals deprived the native population of a vital food supply, and his American host, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, wrote, "George Gore... received from me a passport to travel through the Indian country in the spring of 1854; and... he greatly abused the privileges granted to him by a wanton destruction of the game upon which Indians rely solely for Support." Even the plaque "honoring" Gore at the summit of Gore Pass notes, "More than 2,000 buffalo, 1,600 elk and deer, 100 bears were massacred for sport…."
Late in his trip, Gore and his crew knowingly violated his passport when they penetrated into the Black Hills, sacred lands granted by treaty to the Sioux Indians. Previous interlopers had been summarily killed. The Sioux discovered Gore's party, surrounded, overwhelmed, and disarmed them, and then ... they let them go, unharmed. It was an astonishing gesture, after his depredations.
While he paid his attendants a fair wage, Gore revealed his true feelings about them at the end of his trip, in the remote reaches of the Yellowstone River. As he prepared to disband the crew, Gore felt that the men were not offering enough money for his remaining wagons and gear, so out of spite he burned the lot (except for his guns and trophies) in front of them, and departed for St. Louis.
As mentioned, Gore never ventured south of the Colorado River, and thus never set foot in the core of the magnificent mountain range later named after him.
"A Celtic Nimrod in the Old West" Montana Magazine, 2016
"Sir George, the buffalo slayer" Salt Lake Tribune, 1997
"Expedition of Excess" Billings Gazette, 2002
"Recasting the Gore name in Colorado" Boulder Camera, 2009
1. The Amazing Adventures of Lord Gore - A True Saga from the Old West by Jack Roberts, Sundance, 1977
2. Speaking Ill of the Dead - Jerks in Montana History, by Dave Walter, Morris, 2000.
Read how public opinion caused the USGS to name CHIPETA PEAK in the Sawatch Mountains HERE
The mountains of Colorado and Utah were the homeland of the Ute Indians and their predecessors for millennia - probably more than 10,000 years. Of the eleven Ute tribes, the White River tribe occupied North Park, Middle Park, and the White and Yampa river valleys, with territories extending westward to eastern Utah. In 1881, they were forcibly removed under armed escort of the US Army from their ancestral lands to reservations in Utah and SW Colorado. See the Discovery Channel documentary: "How The West Was Lost : The Utes Must Go"
HOW DID THE NAME OF THE RANGE ARISE?
The earliest reference we have found (unearthed by Jay Browne) is from the September 1, 1868 edition of the Rocky Mountain News (link). Its founder and editor William Byers had just returned from the first recorded ascent of Long's Peak with John Wesley Powell and others, and wrote that from the summit they could see a number of mountain ranges, including "Gore's Range." That name later (1870s) appeared on maps from the Hayden expeditions. The USGS was founded in 1879, and the name was then made official.
Roots of naming the Gore Range Jay Browne, 2017 (rev 2024).
See also 1985 letter from BGN Chair
September 2021: Vail daily article: "Vail council split on renaming Gore Range" by Scott Miller
August 2021: Alta Journal article: "The Confounding Case of Sir St. George Gore" by Martin J. Smith
26 January 2021: Vail Daily article: “Changing Gore Range, named for man who slaughtered Colorado wildlife, hits stiff opposition in Grand County”
18 September 2020: Colorado Sun article: "George Gore’s bloody legacy could soon be erased from Colorado’s mountains, replaced with a nod to the Utes."
15 September 2020: An article in The DENVER POST asks "Does the Gore Range need a different name?"
8 September 2020: The Summit County Board of County Commissioners pass a resolution calling for the Gore Range to be renamed the Nuchu Range.
Colorado Sun 13 July 2020: Click HERE to read Justin Blevins' informative article about Colorado landmarks targeted for renaming, including of course the Gore Range.
Denver Post 2 July 2020: Click HERE to read about the creation of the Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board. The Board has lain fallow for a number of years, but the current interest in renaming monuments, statues, and other public displays has led to its rejuvenation.
Vail Valley Magazine, 29 April 2020: In a Land of Gore, by Shirley Welch. Lots of interesting details about Gore's trip. LINK
Denver Post 3 December 2017: TIM LYDON's comprehensive and thoughtful essay includes this: "Restoring traditional place names can’t undo the past, but it helps repair the lingering cultural damage." LINK
Summit Daily 20 & 31 October 2017: two letters to the editor, one against renaming (by Joe Kramarsic) and one in favor, a specific reply to Kramarsic (by Bill Betz). Link
Denver Post 15 October 2017 article: "Effort is Afoot for No More Gore"
Summit Daily 3 October 2017 article: "Colorado’s Gore Range was named after a bloodthirsty 19th century aristocrat. Is it time for a change?"
FENW October 2017 Newsletter essay by Karn Stiegelmeier: "Rename the Gore Range"
Take a Google Earth tour around the range (90 seconds)
Take a Google Earth tour up Slate Creek (86 seconds)