After years of debate, a U.S. government board has voted to rename Utah’s Negro Bill Canyon, overruling a recommendation by Utah officials to keep the name. The U.S. Board on Geographic Names decided to rename it Grandstaff Canyon to get rid of an offensive name.
The new name honors black rancher and prospector William Grandstaff, whose cattle grazed there in the 1870s. “His name was Grandstaff; it was not Negro Bill,” said Wendi-Starr Brown, a member of the federal board who is Native American. “I’m pretty sure that’s not how he wanted to be addressed in life.” Brown is a member of the Narragansett Indian Tribe who represents the Bureau of Indian Affairs on the federal board.
A year ago, the federal Bureau of Land Management changed signs to say “Grandstaff Trailhead” instead of “Negro Bill” trailhead. “I think we have to look forward,” said federal board member Elizabeth Kanalley, manager of National Geospatial Services at the Forest Service.