Make the change...
Dec 13, 2012 | 625 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I am writing to support the grassroots effort to re-name Negro Bill Canyon to Grandstaff Canyon. While I know less than I should about the life of William Grandstaff, I have a fortunate connection – I own (or conserve) two stout stone cabins built by William Grandstaff at Moab Springs Ranch.

It is likely that, since the destruction of the last remnants of the Elk Mountain Mission in the 1990s (built in the 1850s), the Grandstaff stone cabins (1870s) are now the oldest pioneer structures in the valley. The stonework is impressive, and we are honored to preserve the artifacts.

When I discuss the history of the ranch with visitors and then recommend a hike up the eponymous canyon, I find myself wincing when I get to the canyon’s name. At the ranch we have always been careful to use the man’s name – he had one. We will correct our spelling (Granstaff to Grandstaff).

I have heard many arguments for preserving the existing canyon name but none of them hold up to a rational discussion and they all crumple in the face of the one big reason to make the change – it is the right thing to do and it is high time we did it. There are many ugly aspects of history that we should never forget – but the notion that we should preserve hurtful institutions just because they are historic is absurd.

The only “history” being preserved by continuing to use the name is that racist names were used to alienate an entire group of fellow Americans for centuries. That historic fact is in no danger of being forgotten any time soon. We needn’t perpetuate the wrongs to remember the truth.

The future is more important than the past. People are more important than names. Let’s make this change and move forward.

—McKay Edwards

Salt Lake City, Utah


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