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Alaska Renews Fight to Change McKinley Name to Denali

August 21 2001 at 8:55 AM
roger  (no login)

 
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]


    
This message has been edited by dipper on Aug 21, 2001 8:58 AM


 
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roger
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Anchorage Daily News Editorial Supporting Renaming

September 6 2001, 8:45 AM 

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
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Compromise: Change name of highest point of Hawaii to "Mt. McKinley"

September 6 2001, 11:20 AM 

> 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
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Ken, Change an Arizona Mt Name

September 6 2001, 12:03 PM 

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
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Humphreys Peak name

September 6 2001, 2:11 PM 

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
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USGS Info

September 6 2001, 9:26 PM 

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
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Humphreys

September 7 2001, 11:08 AM 

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
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Humphreys' Traditional Name

September 9 2001, 8:24 PM 

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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Jon McCorkell
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Taylor Peak or Mount Taylor?

September 10 2001, 6:38 PM 

Scott,
Is the Taylor Peak to which you refer the Mount Taylor that is roughly NE of Grants NM? If the answer is yes, then I have summited all four. If no, then where is Taylor Peak?

 
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Anonymous
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Untitled

September 11 2001, 1:12 AM 


 
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Adam Roddy
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Navajo Peaks

September 11 2001, 1:14 AM 

Maybe I'm crazy, but I wonder if there is any problem with climbing all 4 Sacred Navajo Peaks. Is this considered disrespectful? I've hiked Humphrey's, and will probably have Blanca and Hesperus down in a year or so. All that would be left is Taylor. I'm not some kind of freaky-deaky type, but I think it's worth respecting others' cultures (maybe it's my Hawaiian roots). Anyone know if there is a problem with this? Thanks.

 
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Ken Akerman
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It is a sign of respect to climb mountains

September 11 2001, 11:08 AM 

> I wonder if there is any problem with climbing all 4 Sacred Navajo Peaks. Is this considered disrespectful?

No, it is not considered disrespectful. Mountains are meant to be climbed. That is why they are there. In the culture that I am member of (the mountaineering and Highpointing culture), we exhibit proper respect to mountains by climbing them.

Ken

 
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Roger Williams
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Respect to climb mts.

September 11 2001, 11:15 AM 

Tell that to landowners that put up nasty signs or even run climbers off. Or turkeys like the ones who "cite" people attempting to climb Waialeale/Kawaikini on Kauai. A plague on all their houses.

 
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Ken Akerman
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Different case when mountains are privately owned. Respect of property rights

September 11 2001, 11:52 AM 

It is a different case when mountains are privately owned. While I would like to climb every mountain that is within the range of my climbing ability, I understand that some mountains lie on private property. While I would like to get permission to climb these mountains, I understand that some landowners don't want people on their property. That is their right, because private property rights are one of the foundations of our free society. I respect private property rights. Many of us own our own homes, and I don't think any of the readers of this forum would want strangers to walk around without permission in their backyards or in their houses.

For many people, particularly people living in rural areas (where most mountains are located), their land is what they rely upon to earn their living. Therefore, they have a vested interest to ensure that people do not enter their land without permission.

In the case of the Navajo sacred peaks, I have climbed Humphreys and La Plata, and they are located on National Forest land, which is public land, owned by all Citizens of the USA, set aside for recreational purposes. Therefore, anyone can climb them. I am not sure of the status of the other two peaks. If they are located on Indian Reservations, then the Indians own the land, and they have the right to restrict access.

Ken

 
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Ken Akerman
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Update to previous note

September 11 2001, 11:58 AM 

I have climbed Hesperus Peak, which is the highest point of Montezuma County, Colorado. Also, is the Taylor Peak that is considered sacred the Taylor Peak that is the highest point of Cibola County, NM? If so, then I have climbed all four of the sacread Navajo peaks. All four of these peaks, however, are on National Forest land set aside for recreational purposes.

Ken

 
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Jon McCorkell
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Okay to ascend Mt Taylor

September 12 2001, 12:13 PM 

I appreciate Adam's concern for not violating religious concerns of native Americans.
I have lived in NM since 1973 and have done Taylor on hiking boots, on snow shoes and on x c skiis. There is an annual Quadrathlon to the summit of Mt Taylor.
I have also worked in NM in Search and Rescue with fellow volunteers who are "Native American" or "Indian". I have never heard any expression of concern about summiting Mt Taylor.
In many cases the sacred spots are not the actual summits. In NM if you find deer antlers or similar animal fragments within stone circles or half circles, please do not disturb or remove them.

 
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patrick
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the Quad

April 14 2002, 7:30 AM 

I heard about the Quad a few years ago and have always wanted to do it. If I'm not mistaken its a Mountain bike, run, X-C ski, and snowshoe from Grants to the summit of Mt Taylor and back; 20 or 30 miles long; in the first week of March?? Anyhow, its a little far to travel right now, seeing as how I live in Virginia.

 
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Scott Surgent
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Taylor Peak = Mt. Taylor

September 11 2001, 2:01 PM 

My apologies. I got into the "peak" rut.

 
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Jeffrey Cook
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Rename Humphreys

December 6 2001, 2:05 PM 

I suggest renaming it Mount McKinley. That's the only way I'm likely to ever say that I climbed McKinley! Are there any other mountains we can rename McKinley?

By the way, those of us in AZ know there has been a lot of jabbering from certain groups and individuals to rename dozens of mountains and other features in AZ. Most of the hubub has centered around the use of the word "squaw", e.g. Squaw Peak. The claim is that squaw is a derogatory term, a claim which as far as I've heard is completely baseless.

These arguments and the debate over Alaska's McKinley (not to be confused with AZ's new Mt. McKinley) all strike me as little more than intolerance for one culture in the name of tolerance for another. Surely those who advocate changing the names of Mt. Mckinley and Squaw Peak will agree to changing the names of other mountains to something the rest of us are more comfortable with.

It all seems very petty to me--what's in a name, after all? Let's change the name of McKinley to Potato Peak for all I care. It doesn't make it less tall or less beautiful, or make climbing it any easier.

 
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Dominoe Hane
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Lets Fight to Change Ken Akerman's Name

September 21 2001, 5:10 PM 

Lets change Ken Akerman's name to Dilbert!

 
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