Alaska Renews Fight to Change McKinley Name to Denali

Alaska Renews Fight to Change McKinley Name to Denali

roger
roger

August 21st, 2001, 12:55 pm #1

Many thanks to Stephen Gruhn for passing this along.
http://www.adn.com/front/story/662710p-705583c.html
The Anchorage Daily News in its Aug. 19, 2001, issue has an article on Alaska's efforts to change the name of Mount McKinley to Denali.

The article is headlined Tanana Chiefs renew fight to restore peak's name to Denali by Liz Ruskin.

It notes that the State of Alaska has supported the name change for 26 years (the legislature voted in 1975 in favor of the change) but that it has been opposed by Republican Rep. Ralph Regula, who is from McKinley's district in Ohio.

The Tanana Chiefs Conference, a Fairbanks-based non-profit Native organization, is now renewing the fight.

Excerpts:
The 20,320-foot mountain is central to the Athabaskan story of creation, said anthropologist Jim Simon, who works for Tanana Chiefs.

"You're not even supposed to talk about it that much, because it is sacred," he said, noting that Tanana Chiefs president Steve Ginnis referred questions about the mountain to him, a non-Native employee. "To simply talk about it makes it secular. It demeans it. And to name it after someone -- to give it proper respect, you would never give it a name after a person."

It also asked that the name of the neighboring peak be changed from Mount Foraker to Denali Be'ot, meaning "Denali's Wife."

Joseph Foraker was an Ohio senator, a contemporary of McKinley's.

The conference recently made its case to the Alaska Historical Commission. The commission voted unanimously to recommit itself to the effort and to have its chairwoman, Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer, write a letter to the U.S. naming board, which she did.

"Alaskans feel a sense of ownership of that mountain and feel as though it would be more appropriate for there to be an Alaska name on a peak that is so symbolic of the state," Ulmer said last week.

There's really nothing the national board can do, said Payne, the board's executive. At his agency, the McKinley-Denali file is 3 feet thick and lives in its own filing cabinet. By 1980, more than 20,000 people had weighed in on the subject, running 68 percent in favor of Denali, according to the board. The percentage was slightly higher in Alaska and lower in Ohio.

Normally, the board gives a great deal of weight to the place names locals use, but the board's written policy says it won't take up a name question as long as the issue is before Congress.

Rep. Regula makes sure it is.

Regula, with 25 years of practice, is ready for the argument that McKinley never went to Alaska.

"I don't think Garfield was ever in Colorado. I don't believe Van Buren was ever in Arkansas," he said, working his way down the list of the 15 mountains named for U.S. presidents.

------------------------

A Sidebar incidentally deals with the the history of the name.

It is headlined, "Athabaskan legend tells of Denali long before McKinley lived, died
YAKO: Culture's first ancestor built mountain from the waves" by Liz Ruskin.
http://www.adn.com/front/story/662710p-705590c.html
Excerpts:
Yako, the "Athabaskan Adam," lived alone in the area that is now north of Denali. He learned that a war chief to the west, across the ocean, had many beautiful young women living in his village. Yako built a canoe and went there. A village woman gave him her daughter, but as he paddled away with the girl in his canoe, the war chief chased them across the sea.

Both men had special powers to control the ocean. The pursuer put massive waves in Yako's way, but Yako took a wave-quelling stone from his braided hair. As the stone skipped from wave to wave, it created a smooth path for Yako to sail. Finally, the warrior used his greatest spear and heaved it as hard as he could at Yako's back.

Yako deflected the spear by turning the oncoming rear wave into a mountain of stone. The spear struck the summit and glanced upward, high into the sky, over the water until it touched the crest of a bigger wave coming from the east, which Yako turned into an even bigger mountain of stone. This created Denali and the other peaks. Yako and his wife went on to have children, and the descendants became the Athabaskan people.


The word Denali is derived from the Koyukon Athabaskan word Deenaalee.

"This name does not mean The Great One,' as commonly believed, but is instead based on a verb theme meaning high' or tall,' " Fairbanks linguist James Kari wrote in "Shem Pete's Alaska."

Kari identified nine variations of the Athabaskan name. Six translate as "The High One" and three mean "Big Mountain," he said. They range from "Denaze" to "Dghelaay Ce'e."

-----------
That story begins in 1896 with William Dickey, a gold prospector who liked McKinley's championship of the gold standard. Dickey wrote that he also chose the name because McKinley's nomination for president was the first news he learned on his way out of the Alaska wilderness. By some accounts, he chose the name to needle his companions, who favored silver coinage.

[I edited this post because I forgot to put a headline and the URL's]
Last edited by dipper on August 21st, 2001, 12:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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roger
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September 6th, 2001, 12:45 pm #2

I picked this up from Nandotimes but it was originally in the Anchorage Daily News

August 31, 2001 10:22 p.m. EDT) - Rep. Ralph Regula's clockwork opposition to any attempt to officially rename Mount McKinley to Denali has thwarted the change for a generation.

Alaskans can understand the veteran Ohio republican's regard for a fellow Buckeye, a Civil War hero and powerful president struck down by an assassin's bullet. And we're aware that various American mountains are named for presidents who were never near them.

But the name Denali evokes powerful feelings for thousands of Alaskans, Native and non-Native alike. "Denali" rolls off the tongue better than Mount McKinley, has the brevity befitting a name for the mighty, and stood for the mountain long before William McKinley was born.

The Athabascan word Denali commands respect; drop the "Mount" and you have a simple, three-syllable name that suggests power, danger, mystery and grace.

Besides, even if Rep. Regula's take on President McKinley's place in history is correct, it's a stretch to think of the 25th president as a fair substitute for "The Great One." It's not as if we're trying to take the name Lincoln off the mountain. (We'd bet President Lincoln would have gladly chosen Denali, for the sake of union).

Under President McKinley, the United States took possession of Guam, Hawaii, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and part of Samoa. But it's overreaching to stake a claim for his name at the summit of North America. Whatever McKinley's place in history, his name is out of place on Denali.

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Ken Akerman
Ken Akerman

September 6th, 2001, 3:20 pm #3

> Under President McKinley, the United States took possession of Guam, Hawaii, the Philippines,
> Puerto Rico and part of Samoa. But it's overreaching to stake a claim for his name at the summit
> of North America. Whatever McKinley's place in history, his name is out of place on Denali.

As a compromise, to better reflect President McKinley's historical influence on the expansion of the USA, we could officially rename Mt. McKinley to Denali, and then change the name of Hawaii's highest point, Mauna Kea, to Mt. Kinley. However, I believe that this proposal wouldn't go over very well with the Hawaiians.
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Jon McCorkell
Jon McCorkell

September 6th, 2001, 4:03 pm #4

Since Ken resides in Arizona, I will consider supporting his efforts to rename Humphreys. I think we should support the effort of the Alaskans to return to Denali's original name and let the Hawaian residents choose the name for their peaks.
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Scott Surgent
Scott Surgent

September 6th, 2001, 6:11 pm #5

A few years ago I read of the traditional name for Humphreys. I wish I could recall what it was or where I found it... I will try to track it down if only for my own personal edification. In any case, I recall it was some multi-syllable, virtually unpronouncable name. If I find it, I'll post it here.

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Dan
Dan

September 6th, 2001, 6:51 pm #6

Many thanks to Stephen Gruhn for passing this along.
http://www.adn.com/front/story/662710p-705583c.html
The Anchorage Daily News in its Aug. 19, 2001, issue has an article on Alaska's efforts to change the name of Mount McKinley to Denali.

The article is headlined Tanana Chiefs renew fight to restore peak's name to Denali by Liz Ruskin.

It notes that the State of Alaska has supported the name change for 26 years (the legislature voted in 1975 in favor of the change) but that it has been opposed by Republican Rep. Ralph Regula, who is from McKinley's district in Ohio.

The Tanana Chiefs Conference, a Fairbanks-based non-profit Native organization, is now renewing the fight.

Excerpts:
The 20,320-foot mountain is central to the Athabaskan story of creation, said anthropologist Jim Simon, who works for Tanana Chiefs.

"You're not even supposed to talk about it that much, because it is sacred," he said, noting that Tanana Chiefs president Steve Ginnis referred questions about the mountain to him, a non-Native employee. "To simply talk about it makes it secular. It demeans it. And to name it after someone -- to give it proper respect, you would never give it a name after a person."

It also asked that the name of the neighboring peak be changed from Mount Foraker to Denali Be'ot, meaning "Denali's Wife."

Joseph Foraker was an Ohio senator, a contemporary of McKinley's.

The conference recently made its case to the Alaska Historical Commission. The commission voted unanimously to recommit itself to the effort and to have its chairwoman, Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer, write a letter to the U.S. naming board, which she did.

"Alaskans feel a sense of ownership of that mountain and feel as though it would be more appropriate for there to be an Alaska name on a peak that is so symbolic of the state," Ulmer said last week.

There's really nothing the national board can do, said Payne, the board's executive. At his agency, the McKinley-Denali file is 3 feet thick and lives in its own filing cabinet. By 1980, more than 20,000 people had weighed in on the subject, running 68 percent in favor of Denali, according to the board. The percentage was slightly higher in Alaska and lower in Ohio.

Normally, the board gives a great deal of weight to the place names locals use, but the board's written policy says it won't take up a name question as long as the issue is before Congress.

Rep. Regula makes sure it is.

Regula, with 25 years of practice, is ready for the argument that McKinley never went to Alaska.

"I don't think Garfield was ever in Colorado. I don't believe Van Buren was ever in Arkansas," he said, working his way down the list of the 15 mountains named for U.S. presidents.

------------------------

A Sidebar incidentally deals with the the history of the name.

It is headlined, "Athabaskan legend tells of Denali long before McKinley lived, died
YAKO: Culture's first ancestor built mountain from the waves" by Liz Ruskin.
http://www.adn.com/front/story/662710p-705590c.html
Excerpts:
Yako, the "Athabaskan Adam," lived alone in the area that is now north of Denali. He learned that a war chief to the west, across the ocean, had many beautiful young women living in his village. Yako built a canoe and went there. A village woman gave him her daughter, but as he paddled away with the girl in his canoe, the war chief chased them across the sea.

Both men had special powers to control the ocean. The pursuer put massive waves in Yako's way, but Yako took a wave-quelling stone from his braided hair. As the stone skipped from wave to wave, it created a smooth path for Yako to sail. Finally, the warrior used his greatest spear and heaved it as hard as he could at Yako's back.

Yako deflected the spear by turning the oncoming rear wave into a mountain of stone. The spear struck the summit and glanced upward, high into the sky, over the water until it touched the crest of a bigger wave coming from the east, which Yako turned into an even bigger mountain of stone. This created Denali and the other peaks. Yako and his wife went on to have children, and the descendants became the Athabaskan people.


The word Denali is derived from the Koyukon Athabaskan word Deenaalee.

"This name does not mean The Great One,' as commonly believed, but is instead based on a verb theme meaning high' or tall,' " Fairbanks linguist James Kari wrote in "Shem Pete's Alaska."

Kari identified nine variations of the Athabaskan name. Six translate as "The High One" and three mean "Big Mountain," he said. They range from "Denaze" to "Dghelaay Ce'e."

-----------
That story begins in 1896 with William Dickey, a gold prospector who liked McKinley's championship of the gold standard. Dickey wrote that he also chose the name because McKinley's nomination for president was the first news he learned on his way out of the Alaska wilderness. By some accounts, he chose the name to needle his companions, who favored silver coinage.

[I edited this post because I forgot to put a headline and the URL's]
We just had an Idaho mountain name changed yesterday from "Chinks Peak" to "Chinese Peak". Here is the link to the article discussing the change:
http://www.idahostatesman.com/news/dail ... 3182.shtml

Next on the commitee's agenda is the useage of the word "squaw" in geographic names... sounds like there may be some opposition.

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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

September 6th, 2001, 7:11 pm #7

Thanks, Dan. Of course nothing is ever straight forward. Here are some excerpts from the article:


"I'm thrilled," said Micki Kawakami of Concerned Citizens of Pocatello. "I'm even surprised, because at times it seemed so tough."

Pocatello native Russell Joe, an Issaquah, Wash., city councilman, said, "Doing nothing basically is a tacit approval of the name."

But Jeff Ford, chairman of the Idaho Geographic Names Advisory Council, said the change was a mistake.
"I think they set a dangerous precedent," Ford said.

While he didn't disagree with dumping "Chinks," he said the federal board should have heard from the Idaho council, which didn't recommend the change.

"On Friday we will take up the 'squaw' issue and the 'papoose' issue, which I think is absolute (garbage). These people want to sanitize history."
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Dan
Dan

September 7th, 2001, 1:26 am #8

A few years ago I read of the traditional name for Humphreys. I wish I could recall what it was or where I found it... I will try to track it down if only for my own personal edification. In any case, I recall it was some multi-syllable, virtually unpronouncable name. If I find it, I'll post it here.
According to the USGS, the original name was San Francisco Peak, which was applied in 1903. In 1911 it was changed to Humphreys. No mention of a hard to pronounce word.
http://mapping.usgs.gov/www/gnis/gnisform.html
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Scott Surgent
Scott Surgent

September 7th, 2001, 3:08 pm #9

It is still called the San Francisco Peaks, with Humphreys specifically referring to the highpoint. It's not really a range in the usual sense but one single enormous volcano that erupted thousands of years ago and left what we see today.

The name I am thinking of is probably Navajo as the peak is their traditional western boundary. I will be sure to go to ASU's Noble Library today and find it!

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Scott Surgent
Scott Surgent

September 10th, 2001, 12:24 am #10

According to the USGS, the original name was San Francisco Peak, which was applied in 1903. In 1911 it was changed to Humphreys. No mention of a hard to pronounce word.
http://mapping.usgs.gov/www/gnis/gnisform.html
Okay, here we go. This is from "The Navajo Atlas", by J. M. Goodman, University of Oklahoma Press, 1982:

The Navajo People traditionally define their territory by 4 significant mountains located roughly at each cardinal direction. Humphreys Peak, or more generally (and accurately), The San Francisco Peaks, is known as Dook'o'oostiid, the Sacred Mountain of the West. I transcribed this directly from the book. I have no idea how to pronounce it.

For the record, here are the others:

Blanca Peak CO: Sis Naaini, the Sacred Mountain of the East.

Taylor Peak NM: Tsoodzil, the Sacred Mountain of the South.

La Plata Mtn CO: Dik 'Nitsaa, The Sacred Mountain of the North.

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