Chinks Peak in Idaho gets a name change in time for Chinese New Year

In the name of cultural sensitivity, Chinks Peak in the Pocatello Range in Idaho has a new name. It’s official name is now Chinese Peak.

The name change came after a long time effort to make this particular mountain reflect the important contributions that Chinese pioneers made in Idaho history. Chinks Peak was deemed racist.

In this report, one person on the panel expressed concern that this name change may lead to a flurry of other name changes because there are other mountain peaks and valleys with racist sounding names. He named “papoose” and “squaw” as examples. He also said that changing names sanitizes American history. On the other hand, there’s the argument that keeping the name perpetuates stereotypes and the idea that people who have a Chinese background are outsiders.

Why places are named what they are turns up details of history that offer unusual stories. Booger Mountain comes to mind. In the case of Chinese Peak, there are two accounts. One is that a Chinese person was found dead on the mountain. Another is that there was once a Chinese shanty town located on it. Regardless of the official name change, my hunch is that it will take awhile for the new name to roll naturally off people’s tongues. Old habits die hard. Maybe this will start a new name trend.

The mountains in the photo are the ones that are next to Pocatello. I have no idea if Chinese Mountain is in the distance. Click here for a recent photo taken from the top of the mountain.