Ohio lawmakers slam Obama plans to rename Mt. McKinley ‘Denali’ during Alaska trip

31 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Daily Talker: Mount McKinley Renamed Denali.

“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.” — U.S. There was no reason, Stewart explained in his 1945 tome “Names on the Land,” why a New Hampshire gold prospector of little consequence should have been able to christen America’s tallest peak.

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. But politicians, not toponymists, are the ones who control the nation’s maps, which largely explains how the craggy, ice-bound mountain remained named after America’s 25th president for more than a century. 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. President Barack Obama will carry that urgent message to Alaska this week in the hopes his long journey away from his busy agenda in Washington will begin to change the national conversation on global warming. For decades, the mountain has towered over the Alaskan taiga — still impressive, still impassive, still the tallest thing for five thousand miles in any direction — while members of Congress debated how to label it.

They scored it an error, thankfully so, and I was able to finish it off.” — Jake Arrieta on pitching the sixth no-hitter in the majors this season and second against the Los Angeles Dodgers in 10 days, leading the Chicago Cubs to a 2-0 victory. Whether it’s a hike on a melting glacier near the town of Seward or his visit with fisherman in the remote coastal village of Dillingham, the President wants a distracted public to see the jarring effects of global warming through his own eyes. Named McKinley in 1896, shortly after President William McKinley was nominated as a candidate for office, the 20,320-foot peak has long been known locally as Denali, its name in the indigenous Athabascan language. He was also the only adventurer with the chutzpah to designate a geographic landmark for his favorite political candidate (perhaps it’s a good thing all of America is mapped now, otherwise we might end up with the Donald Delta or Clinton Creek). The national park that surrounds the mountain was named Denali in 1980, but the peak itself is still listed in official federal documents as McKinley.

He named the mountain “after William McKinley of Ohio, who had been nominated for the presidency, and that fact was the first news we received on our way out of the wonderful wilderness,” Dickey wrote in 1896. As a gold prospector with a vested interest in keeping the value of the precious metal high, Dickey picked the name as a form of symbolic revenge against silver standard supporters, with whom he spent much time bickering. The arctic has warmed almost twice as fast as the rest of the world and portions of northern Alaska have lost a “football field’s worth of land a day to coast erosions and sea-level rise,” Deese said.

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 recognized. Secretary of State John Kerry, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and other top administration officials are also making the 4,000-mile plus journey for the gathering. The foreign policy implications of a changing arctic are quickly coming into focus for the Obama administration, as Russia is increasingly behaving like a military rival in the area. Still, there was resistance to “Mount McKinley.” Episcopal missionary Hudson Stuck, a member of the first team to reach the mountain’s 20,237-foot summit in 1913, lobbied hard for the peak to be re-labeled Denali.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think-tank recently warned Moscow is boosting its military presence in the arctic, dubbing the Russian ambitions as “the ice curtain.” The rapid ice melt in the Arctic is more than just a military concern. Stuck often spoke out against the mistreatment of Alaskan Natives and apparently believed that they were more in need of appreciation than McKinley (who was, after all, already on the $500 bill). As the President noted in his weekly address, the state’s independent governor warns four Alaskan villages are in “imminent danger” and must be relocated. “Think about that. Shortly after Alaska gained statehood in 1959, Alaskans — many of whom had never stopped referring to the mountain as Denali — began to wonder why the state’s natural crown jewel should be named for a president from Ohio. If another country threatened to wipe out an American town, we’d do everything in our power to protect ourselves,” Obama said in the address. “Climate change poses the same threat, right now.” Even though environmentalists welcome the President’s focus, some conservationists have accused Obama of climate hypocrisy, citing the recent approval for Royal Dutch Shell to begin oil and gas drilling in the Chukchi Sea off of Alaska’s northwest coast.

The tweet featured a rendering of Obama wearing a Shell oil patch on his chest and standing on an aircraft carrier with a banner reading “Mission Accomplished,” a reference to the image of President George W. The President defended the decision in favor of Shell’s application as part of a balanced energy approach which he describes as the development of domestic resources of oil and natural gas until more sustainable, alternative fuel sources become the norm. “I share people’s concerns about offshore drilling.

But Alaskans were “super-happy,” as 29-year-old Celeste Godfrey, who leads tours in Denali National Park, told the Alaska Dispatch News. “Super-duper happy — verklempt, if you will.”

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