October 7, 2004
Rejecting protests from four American Indian tribes, the state Board on Geographic and Historic Names voted Wednesday to name a peak in Maricopa County in honor of Barry Goldwater.
The vote caps efforts that began shortly after Goldwater died in 1998. Proponents, including family members, said Goldwater, a former U.S. senator and the Republican nominee for president in 1964, would want his name to be connected to a natural feature.
Jacob Moore, lobbyist for the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, said his tribe has great respect for Goldwater. But he said the board should not be imposing that kind of name on a peak in the White Tanks Mountains that is part of the history of the O’odham tribes, including his own.
Moore instead suggested Cheson Coo-gahtch, which means Desert Bighorn Peak in the O’odham language. That suggestion was backed by other O’odham tribes, including the Gila River, Ak Chin and Tohono nations.
"Our oral history is that this was a reference to that area,’’ Moore said, with O’odham people living there as well as through much of central and southern Arizona. "They hunted bighorn sheep in that area.’’
Joe Abodeely, a Phoenix attorney pushing the name change, said he does not want a fight with the state’s Indian community.
He pointed out that this request for the name on the highest point in the White Tanks — a peak that currently has no official name — has been pending for five years. He said tribal officials should not be able to come in now and derail that effort.
Abodeely said he would have no objection to maps listing Cheson Coo-gahtch as an alternative name for the peak.
Only board member Alyce Sadongei, who has both Tohono and Kiowa heritage, sided with the tribes.
She said it is important to realize that, unlike back East, the native people who once lived in the state are still here. And that, she said, requires the state to respect "the historic and traditional legacy’’ when taking official actions.
A final decision must come from the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. That body generally follows the recommendations of state affiliates.
In other action, the board unanimously rejected a request to rechristen Lake Powell as Glen Canyon Reservoir. Committee members rejected arguments by Nancy Jacques that her suggestion would more properly reflect the fact that this is an artificial body of water.
Jacques and her Coalition to Rename Lake Powell still can make their case to the federal board.