Just "Denali" now!


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" '[The name change] is interesting and important on many levels,' said Kari, who noted    
that the legislative fight over the name of the mountain was just a 'low-stakes
political cat fight,' whereas restoring the mountain's native name was 
an issue that many Alaskans were truly passionate about."
~  LiveScience.com web article re: changing "Mt. McKinley" back to "Denali"

Native and transplanted Alaskans aren't the only ones who call North America's highest peak "Denali." In all my entries about Denali National Park in 2012 and this summer I believe I've used "Denali" regarding the mountain and not "McKinley."

Although I was born in Ohio and spent my first 25 years there, I've always thought it was sacrilege to name this magnificent mountain after a person who never once set foot in the state of Alaska. If politicians had to rename it for a white person who had something significant to do with the state, it would have made much more sense to name it after Seward than McKinley.

Above (7-15-15) and below (8-9-12):  Denali from a distance on the park road

Even that would have been controversial, though. It shows absolutely no respect for those who settled the area many thousands of years before Americans, Europeans, and Russians decided they wanted to live there, too.

I think it makes the most sense -- and is the most respectful -- to leave place names as close to the original as possible. Native Alaskans used names that identified places for their locations or special characteristics i.e., descriptive monikers, not in recognition of people.

So I was really, really happy to read today that the name of The High One has been officially returned to "Denali."

That's not even the original Athabascan spelling, but at least it's in the same spirit as the original name.

Above and below:  Denali from the Eielson Visitor Center, Mile 66 on the park road (8-9-12)


Denali from the rooftop of the Eielson Visitor Center (7-21-15)

Denali mesmerizes me when I'm in the national park or trying to view it from Anchorage or the Parks Highway on a clear day. It dominates the horizon unless hidden by clouds, which is about 70% of the time. We were fortunate to see it so often in 2012.

I'm putting some of my best photos of the mountain from our four visits to the park in this entry. My very favorite picture continues to be the one I'm using as this year's page header. I've had that on my computer screen for three years (four, at the time I'm finally uploading this entry).

My only regret is that I didn't visit the park and try to climb Denali when I was much younger. Imagine negotiating these beautiful ridges in the month of May when there is even more snow . . .

Close-up of Denali's south (L) and north peaks  (8-9-12)

<sigh> I'm just too old to do it now.


Here's the link to the article from the Alaska Dispatch News that I read today and have copied below. The article quoted at the top of the page appeared on September 1 and is also an interesting read so I've copied it, too.

President Obama OKs Renaming of Mount McKinley to Denali

by Erica Martinson   August 30, 2015

It’s official: Denali is now the mountain formerly known as Mount McKinley.

With the approval of President Barack Obama, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has signed a “secretarial order” to officially change the name, the White House and Interior Department announced Sunday. The announcement comes roughly 24 hours before Obama touches down in Anchorage for a whirlwind tour of Alaska. 

Denali is the Koyukon Athabascan name for the mountain.

Jewell’s authority stems from a 1947 federal law that allows her to make changes to geographic names through the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, according to the department. The National Park Service stirred up interest earlier this year when they registered no objection to a name change in a congressional hearing. 

Above (7-21-15) and below (8-11-12):  Denali from the alpine trail
up Thorofare Ridge above Eielson Visitor Center

“I think for people like myself that have known the mountain as Denali for years and certainly for Alaskans, it's something that's been a long time coming,” Jewell told Alaska Dispatch News Sunday. 

“It's something (former Alaska Gov. Jay Hammond) pushed for back in 1975, and because of an effort to stop it in legislation that has not actually gone anywhere in the last 40  years, the Board of Geographic Names did not take it up,” Jewell said. As Interior Secretary she has authority to make a unilateral decision after a “reasonable time has passed,” Jewell said. 

“And I think any of us would think that  think that 40 years is an unreasonable amount of time. So we're delighted to make the name change now and frankly I'm delighted that President Obama has encouraged the name change consistent with his trip,” Jewell said. 

Above (8-11-12) and below (7-21-15):  Denali from top of Thorofare Ridge

Every year, the same story plays out in Washington, DC: Alaska legislators file a bill to change the name from Mount McKinley to Denali, and every year, someone in the Ohio congressional delegation -- the home state of the 25th President William McKinley -- files legislation to block a name change. 

Jewell said the “overwhelming support for many years from the citizens of Alaska is more robust than anything than we have heard from the citizens of Ohio,” and that the filing the same legislation year after year has not been accompanied by any “grassroots support” in Ohio. 

Above and next two photos below:  Denali from the park road between
Eielson and Wonder Lake, miles 66-82 on the park road  (8-9-12)


Neither Jewell nor Obama are expected to visit Denali during their trip to the state this week. “But I've certainly been to the park before, before I took this job,” Jewell said. “I am a climber -- I have aspired to climb it, but I'm not sure it's going to be on my list in the future, due to the fact that I'm not getting younger each year. But it's a mountain that I've always respected and appreciated.” 

“I think most of us have always called it Denali. I know that's true in the climbing community and I suspect it has been true in Alaska for a very long time. So it'll just be great to formalize that with our friends at the U.S. Geological Survey and the board of geographic names,” Jewell said. 


Here's the LiveScience article I found interesting when doing an internet search later:

Why 'Denali?' Explaining Mt. McKinley's New (Old) Name

by Elizabeth Palermo   September 1, 2015

North America's tallest mountain peak just got a new name. Or, more accurately, the mountain formerly known as Mount McKinley just got its old name back.

On Sunday (Aug. 30), during a trip to Alaska, President Obama said the name of the state's 20,237-foot (6,168 meters) mountain would officially be changed to Denali, which is what many Alaskans have called the peak all along.

Above and next two photos:  Denali from Mt. Margaret a Mile 17 on the park road (8-15-12)


The word "Denali" is derived from Koyukon, one of the 11 Athabascan languages traditionally spoken in Alaska. In the Koyukon language, the word for the mountain is "Deenaalee," and at least five other Athabascan languages have similar names for the Alaska Range's highest peak (though these names are pronounced differently), said James Kari, professor emeritus of linguistics at University of Alaska Fairbanks and a specialist in Athabascan languages.

"Then you have 'Denali', which is the Anglicization of the Koyukon name," Kari told Live Science. The name translates to "the tall one," and is derived from the Koyukon verb that means, "to be long or tall," he added.

Autumn Denali from Mile 10 on the park road (8-29-12)

Autumn Denali from Eielson Visitor Center, Mile 66 on the park road  (8-29-12)

But the Denali name isn't just descriptive; it's also ancient. Like many of the original place names derived from Athabascan languages, derivatives of "Deenaalee" may have been used by native Alaskans as early as 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, Kari said. Variations of the name also appear on the earliest known maps of Alaska and were recorded (though often misspelled) by the first American geologists to explore the region, in the 19th century, he added.

In the grand scheme of history, the peak's once-official name of Mount McKinley was fairly short lived. In 1896, an ardent political supporter of then-presidential candidate William McKinley started calling the mountain Mount McKinley. The name was formally recognized by an act of Congress in 1917, long after McKinley's assassination in 1901. But in 1980, Congress named the area surrounding the peak Denali National Park and Preserve.

Above and below:  Denali close-ups from Thorofare Ridge above Eielson (8-11-12)

For nearly 100 years, the name Mount McKinley appeared on federal maps and official documents. But many people never called the mountain by this name, said Kari, who added that the name Denali has long been used by both native and non-native Alaskans.

In 1975, the Alaska State Legislature filed a request with the United States Board on Geographic Names to officially rename the mountain Denali, but congressmen from McKinley's home state of Ohio blocked the measure. This same scenario has played out on an almost yearly basis in Washington, D.C., with Alaska legislators requesting a name change and Ohio legislators refuting the request.

This week's renaming of the mountain came about because U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, with the approval of President Obama, signed a secretarial order that bypassed the legislative filibuster and granted the name change requested by Alaska's state representatives.

Denali close-up from Thorofare Ridge above Eielson Visitor Center  (7-21-15)

New dusting of snow on Denali's lower slopes  (8-29-12)

"[The name change] is interesting and important on many levels," said Kari, who noted that the legislative fight over the name of the mountain was just a "low-stakes political cat fight," whereas restoring the mountain's native name was an issue that many Alaskans were truly passionate about.

But Kari said, as an academic, he's most excited that the public may now learn more about the Athabascan system of naming places and geographical structures. The rule-driven naming system is highly functional, he said, designed to make travel in the region more intuitive. For instance, a river, its tributaries and the river mouth will all have part of their names in common, so that people know the different bodies are related to one another.

Above and below:  air tour of Denali's north and south peaks  (8-7-12)

The renaming of Denali is a sign that Alaskans continue to claim this system as their own, said Kari, who added that Alaskans are also preserving native names in new ways.

For example, the Anchorage convention hall in which President Obama announced Denali's name change is called the Dena'ina Center and is named for an Athabascan ethno-linguistic group from the Anchorage area. The five largest rooms in the building aren't named for former presidents or anyone else — they're named for Dena'ina villages.  


"Denali." Yes!!!

Next entrycontinuing the journey south -- Grande Prairie to Olds, AB

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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