• Thu. Oct 5th, 2023

Oregon’s obscure ‘Swastika Mountain’ renamed for American Indian


May 11, 2023


An Oregon mountain previously known as “Swastika Mountain” has been renamed “Mount Halo” for a former chief of the state’s Yoncalla Kalapuya American Indian tribe.

While the old name has obvious connotations, it in fact stemmed from a early 20th-century farm and town in the area called Swastika that predated the rise (and fall) of Nazi Germany. The farm’s owner, Clayton Burton, branded his cattle with a swastika.

After the town was abandoned, the mountain kept the name and went under the radar until a New Year’s Day 2022 rescue on the peak piqued the attention of Eugene, Oregon, resident Joyce McClain.

Perturbed by the existing name she saw in news reports, the octogenarian Ms. McClain petitioned authorities to rename the 4,200-foot mountain.

Ms. McClain initially suggested that the feature be renamed Mount Umpqua, after the Umpqua National Forest in which it is located.

However, when the suggestion was made to name it Mount Halo after historical Yoncalla Kalapuya leader Halito, she withdrew her name, agreeing that the indigenous reference was better.

Chief Halito’s village was located around 20 miles west of the peak, and Halo was an alternate form of referring to him during his lifetime.

“I was glad I could do this. One person can really make a difference. People don’t think so, but this proves that one person can, no matter who they are,” Ms. McClain told NPR.

On April 13, the new name of Mount Halo was approved by the U.S. Board of Geographic Names.


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