GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Hikers on Monument Mountain in Great Barrington will notice two names have been changed that were approved by the The Trustees of Reservations who worked with the Indigenous descendants of the people who once called the area home.
According to a news release sent to 22News from The Trustees, Indian Monument Trail has been renamed “Mohican Monument Trail” and Squaw Peak is now called “Peeskawso Peak,” (pronounced / Pē: skãw. sō /) which means virtuous woman in the Mohican language. The new signage will be installed by the end of April.
For more than a year, the changes were discussed with the Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohicans where the term “Indian” is considered offensive, and “squaw” is an ethnic and sexist slur.
“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,” said Director of Cultural Affairs for the Stockbridge Munsee Community Heather Bruegl. “By removing offensive language, it gives us an opportunity to correct the historical narrative.”
The history will focus on the Indigenous people who called the property home, rather than filtering everything on the famed picnic between Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville on the mountain in 1850.
“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. “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 Mission House in Stockbridge, built in 1742 by Rev. John Sergeant, a minister who established a religious mission among the Mohicans was turned into a museum. The Trustees changed the original interpretation told the story through Sergeant’s eyes to a display written by tribal members detailing their history, shifting the narrative to Indigenous peoples instead of white colonists.
“The Trustees’ commitment to DBIE (Diversity, Belonging, Inclusion, Equity) is deeply grounded in our mission to protect and share Massachusetts’ iconic places for everyone, forever. Together, we carry forth this belief by seeking to create inclusive spaces of belonging for Trustees staff, members, volunteers, and communities,” said Janelle Woods-McNish, Managing Director of Community Impact. “We acknowledge that creating inclusive spaces where everyone feels welcome will be a learning journey for the organization and for all of us as individuals.