The Debate of Denali

The US President Barack Obama has declared to rename Mt. Mckinley to its former Koyukon name Denali during his recent visit to Alaska, however, there is still a debate among many Americans over renaming the tallest mountain in North America

History of Denali

Denali or Mt. McKinley (1917-2015) is an Alpine PD+ peak located inside Denali National Park and scales 20,237 feet (6,168 m). Listed along with Mt. Everest and Aconcagua in the Seven Summits, Denali has 18,000 ft rise from base to peak.

Denali covered with clouds

Denali covered with clouds

The peak was first documented by Cpt. George Vancouver in 1794. The first ever successful summit was made by the American team, consisting of Hudson Stuck, Harry Karstens, Walter Harper and Robert Tatum, in 1951.

It has two summits. The south summit scales 20,237 ft, whereas the north summit only scales about 19,470 ft. A center piece of Denali National Park, the temperature of the top of the mountain has been recorded to fall up to -73°C (-100°F). The mountain has its own localized weather.

Denali National Park

Denali National Park is a national park and preserve located in the interior Alaska and centered around Denali peak. The large park and preserve area encompasses 7.34 million acres (29,930 km2), where, 81% of the area is federally owned.

More than 400,000 people are known to visit the park every year, and some of the most popular sports activities are dog-sledging, cross-country skiing and snowmachining.

It was established in Feb 27, 1917, when President Woodrow Wilson signed the bill into legislation confirming the establishment of the park.

Koyukon Tribe

The Koyukon are Alaskan Athbaskan native tribe living along the Koyukok and Yukon river for thousand of years.

Koyukon People

Koyukon People (1898)

A small group of people mostly lived hunting and trapping for life. They shared a trade with  coastal Eskimos wo brought them the first modern goods. Today, the total population of Koyukon are know to be only 2,300, which are mostly Christians and Animist.

Th early Koyukon  inhabitants of Denali region named the peak Denali (Deenaalee, /diˈnæli/), which means “high” or “tall.” the name tends to resonate their history and civilization, therefore, most of them still call it Denali instead of Mt. Mckinley.

The Koyukon language belongs to a large family called Na-Dené or Athabaskan, traditionally spoken by numerous groups of native people throughout northwestern North America.

The Debate of Denali

The debate of Denali rose in 1975 when Alaska legislature asked US Federal government to officially change the name to Denali from Mt. Mckinley because of the local sentiments and history adjoined with its former name. The mountain was unofficially named Mount McKinley in 1896 by a gold prospector, and officially by the United States government in 1917 to commemorate William McKinley.

The biggest obstruction came from the Ohio Congressman Ralph Regula, whose district included Canton, where Mckinley spent most of his childhood. The recent move left many politicians unhappy.

The bill languished for 40 years until President Obama directed Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell to rename it to Denali on August 30, 2015.

Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski said,

For centuries, Alaskans have known this majestic mountain as the ‘Great One’. Today we are honored to be able to officially recognize the mountain as Denali. I’d like to thank the president for working with us to achieve this significant change to show honor, respect and gratitude to the Athabascan people of Alaska. [Aug 30]



One thought on “The Debate of Denali

  1. Pingback: The Debate of Denali | Surfing Overland | Scoo...

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