Interior name advisers seek to topple ‘Devils Tower’

By Michael Doyle | 06/20/2024 01:36 PM EDT

A panel created by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland suggested she change the name of the well-known Wyoming rock formation — a move long sought by Native Americans.

This July 29, 2017 photo shows Devils Tower in northeastern Wyoming. Just like in the science-fiction movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," UFO enthusiasts are headed to the strange geological formation in Wyoming. Experts on UFOs will speak at the Devils Tower UFO Rendezvous in September. Devils Tower played a key role in the well-known UFO film that came out 40 years ago this year.

Devils Tower in northeastern Wyoming. Susan Montoya Bryan/AP

An Interior Department advisory panel has recommended changing the name of Devils Tower, the distinctive rock formation in Wyoming at the country’s oldest national monument and the centerpiece of a long-running debate over place names.

Citing long-standing Native American opposition to the name, the Reconciliation in Place Names Committee, in its meeting last week, voted to recommend renaming the eerie tower, as well as the surrounding area around it, as “Bear Lodge.”

“Tribes have been working on this since 1998,” Howard Dale Valandra, the advisory committee chair and a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, said in an interview Tuesday. “We’ve had a lot of debate over it.”


“More than 20 Tribes with close association to the site find the name ‘Devils Tower’ to be offensive and support this renaming proposal,” according to an advisory committee report. The recommendation includes urging Interior to engage with the local community to develop an alternative name for the unincorporated region surrounding the obelisk if Bear Lodge is not supported.