Ohio delegation blasts Mount McKinley name change

31 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Beyond Denali: 5 renamable American landmarks.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration will change the name of North America’s tallest mountain peak from Mount McKinley to Denali, the White House said Sunday, a major symbolic gesture to Alaska Natives on the eve of President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Alaska.The federal government named it Mount McKinley in 1896 after a gold prospector exploring the region heard that Ohioan William McKinley, a supporter of the gold standard, had won the Republican nomination for president. By renaming the peak Denali, an Athabascan word meaning “the high one,” Obama waded into a sensitive and decades-old conflict between residents of Alaska and Ohio.

Alaskans have informally called the mountain Denali for years, but the federal government recognizes its name invoking the 25th president, William McKinley, who was born in Ohio and assassinated early in his second term. “With our own sense of reverence for this place, we are officially renaming the mountain Denali in recognition of the traditions of Alaska Natives and the strong support of the people of Alaska,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. The announcement came as Obama prepared to depart early Monday on a three-day visit to Alaska, becoming the first sitting president to travel north of the Arctic Circle.

Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio, said McKinley deserved to be honored, and invited his colleagues to join him to try to block what he called Obama’s “constitutional overreach.” “This political stunt is insulting to all Ohioans, and I will be working with the House Committee on Natural Resources to determine what can be done to prevent this action,” Gibbs said. Started in 1947 after tribal leaders had recruited sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, who dedicated his life to the sculpture until his death in 1982, the sculpture intended to portray the Sioux leader on horseback remains unfinished but not forgotten.

For thousands of years, Native Americans called this pear-shaped island in southern Rhode Island “Manisses” (“Island of the Little God, “) until it was visited in 1614 by Dutch explorer Adriaen Block, who renamed it after himself. Upon hearing the news that McKinley, a Republican, had received his party’s nomination to be president, the prospector named it after him and the name was formally recognised. At 20,320 feet, the mountain stands as the continent’s tallest, and is still growing at a rate of about one millimeter per year, according to the National Park Service.

As the AP reports: Obama and [Secretary of State John] Kerry are intensely focused on a global climate treaty that nations hope to finalize in December, as the president works to secure his environmental legacy before leaving office. Known for its majestic views, the mountain is dotted with glaciers and covered at the top with snow year-round, with powerful winds that make it difficult for the adventurous few who seek to climb it. And before the president’s critics start throwing around the phrase “power grab” with too much enthusiasm, let’s also note that the Alaska Dispatch News’ report added, “Jewell’s authority stems from a 1947 federal law that allows her to make changes to geographic names through the U.S. The president has pledged a U.S. cut in greenhouse gas emissions of up to 28 percent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels, and planned to use the Alaska visit to press other nations to commit to similarly ambitious measures. For the last 40 years, Ohio Republicans have resisted any change – McKinley is one of six presidents from the Buckeye State – characterizing the restoration of Denali as a slight.

Some may know Lake Superior’s name from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1855 poem “Hiawatha,” or from the opening to Gordon Lightfoot’s 1976 song “God The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald.” “The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down, Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee,” Lightfoot sang.

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