Montana Geographic Names Advisor

Geographic Name Change Request

Yenne Peak
Glacier County, Montana

Status = Denied

Description summit, elevation 2,655 m (8,712 ft), Located in Glacier National Park, at the SW end of Ptarmigan Wall, 1 km (0.6 mi) N of Iceberg Lake. Named for William J. Yenne (1908-1994), outdoorsman, Glacier National Park employee, guide, and park trails supervisor
Location 48°49’19”N, 113°45’10”W
PLSS Location Sec 6, T35N, R16W
Proposal new commemorative name for an unnamed feature
Proponent William P. Yenne; San Francisco, CA
Administrative area Glacier National Park
Previous BGN Action None
See also
Local Usage None found
Published None found
The new name Yenne Peak is proposed for an 8,712-foot summit in Glacier National Park. The name is intended to honor William J. Yenne (1908-1994), who was employed for many years by the National Park Service as an outdoorsman, guide, and trails supervisor in the park.

Although Glacier National Park does not have official Federal wilderness status, the majority of land within its boundaries has been recommended to Congress for wilderness designation, and as such, it is managed by the National Park Service within wilderness guidelines. The proponent, who is the son of the intended honoree, believes the proposal warrants an exception to the BGN’s Wilderness Names Policy because of his father’s contributions to the park. He cites his long-term association with the park, where he spent months on the trails every year, many within sight of the unnamed peak. William Yenne’s grandfather also homesteaded within 30 miles of the peak in 1895, and the honoree was born at that homestead location. His biography is sold in the park’s bookstore. One local author referred to Mr. Yenne as “the man who best knows Glacier National Park’s one thousand miles of trails.” Even after retirement, he returned to Glacier nearly every summer for two decades. Commenting further on the Wilderness Policy, the proponent believes there is “overriding need for landmarks to be given names,” especially in instances of search and rescue. With regard to the education factor, he contends that “the names of persons who are important to a place should be recalled in that place.” He adds, “William J. Yenne not only devoted most of his lifetime to [the] idea of renewal in the wilderness, he embodied it.” Further, he notes that numerous places in the park are named for individuals and institutions with far less connection to the area.

A letter of support for the name Yenne Peak has been received from Senator Max Baucus, who notes that “Mr. Yenne’s love and thorough knowledge of the Park enriched the experiences of thousands of its visitors.” Flathead Valley author and broadcaster George Ostrom also submitted a letter of support. Mr. Ostrom, who as legislative aide to Senator Lee Metcalf helped draft the 1964 Wilderness Act, believes “the naming of this peak is entirely consistent with the intentions of the Act.” He adds, “To the best of my knowledge, there were [sic] no consideration in [the Outdoor Resources and Review Committee] or in the resulting wilderness legislation regarding the future naming of geographic features. Those procedures were already established, so it was NOT something we were concerned with as part of a Wilderness Bill. I strongly implore you to honor a man who devoted his entire life to serving, preserving, and supporting America’s wildest places.”

The SNA posted a public notice regarding the proposal, which prompted 39 responses in favor and 15 opposed. Favorable comments included, “Naming that crag of rock ‘Yenne Peak’ just seems like the right thing to do,“ “This tireless, dedicated gentleman was a rare, one-of a kind worker for the Park Service,” and “Bill Yenne was an even bigger presence in the Park than his book portrays him to be.” Meanwhile, negative input ranged from “It would set an unworkable precedent that could not be applied objectively” to “There are countless other people who have contributed to Glacier as much or more as Yenne, who have nothing named after them. The credit to such people should be given through history books and naturalist programs, not on the physical features of Glacier, whose awe-striking beauty speaks for themselves [sic].”

The Glacier County Commissioners are opposed to the proposal, suggesting that if the summit is to be named, it should be given a Blackfeet name. They added, “To name it after someone who is not associated with the Blackfeet would continue an insult that has been a part of Glacier Park’s history in Blackfeet Country.” The Montana State Names Authority (SNA) also does not support the proposal, citing the opposition of the County Commissioners.

The National Park Service, also citing the BGN’s Wilderness Policy, does not support the proposal. After learning of the county and SNA’s opposition, the proponent commented that he had petitioned the county commissioners to change their position. He stated that he “respect[ed] the fact that mountain peaks have special meaning for the Blackfeet people… However, this particular peak has long been numerically designated and not named at all.” Further, his father when working in the park, “made a point of hiring tribal members for his crews. His personal associations with the Tribe were strong,” and finally, “[I]t was not the intent of the [Wilderness] Act to prevent a proposal such as this.”

A copy of the proposal was sent to the Blackfeet Tribe of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, the Crow Tribe of Montana, and the Fort Belknap Indian Community of the Fort Belknap Reservation, all of which are Federally recognized. No response was received, which is presumed to indicate a lack of an opinion on the issue.

Comments Received by the Montana Geographic Names Advisor
Montana Geographic Names Advisor Recommendation - Oppose (Thursday, July 28, 2011)
Domestic Names Committee Decision Date - Thursday, October 27, 2011
Domestic Names Committee Discussion - A motion was made and seconded not to approve this name, citing the negative recommendations of the State Names Authority and the National Park Service, and in the belief that the proposal did not warrant an exception to the Wilderness Names Policy.

Vote: 11 in favor
0 against
0 abstentions

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