Will President Trump follow through on changing Denali’s name back to Mt. McKinley?

President-elect Donald Trump made many a campaign promise during his run for the White House; shutting down the Environmental Protection Agency, and killing the Affordable Care Act were among those promises. But one of Trump’s rhetorical pledges affects Alaskans specifically: his Twitter vow to re-name Denali.

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Orville Huntington, Parks Director with the Tanana Chiefs Conference, is from the Koyukon Athabascan village of Huslia.

“Well, I can only speak from the Interior Athabascans. It’s always been called Denali, we never called it any other name,” Huntington said. “Every mountain has four names, depending on which direction you are traveling, so, for us we were going toward the South, and you know, you see Denali, and it is pretty prominent, and so that’s why it got the name. And it’s always been the name, as far as I know, we never called it anything else.”

Huntington said the name Denali, means “The Great One”. He said Alaska Native names of the mountain could be different, depending on which of the Athabascan, Dene’, languages are spoken.

“I wouldn’t know, you would have to go to the Dena’ina name, it may be the same. I have no idea what it is in Upper Tannana.. I don’t know that language,” Huntington said.

To many Alaskans, it has always been Denali, and after last year’s visit to Alaska to promote his environmental agenda, President Barack Obama announced his administration’s recognition of Denali as the official name of the nation’s highest peak. Trump proceeded to erupt on Twitter and vowed to change Denali back to Mt. McKinley after former president William McKinley. Of course Ohio, the home state of McKinley, also figured prominently in Trump’s campaign agenda as one of the hotly contested “battleground” states.

It remains to be seen if Trump will follow through on his promise.

APTI Reporter-Producer Ellen Lockyer started her radio career in the late 1980s, after a stint at bush Alaska weekly newspapers, the Copper Valley Views and the Cordova Times. When the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, Valdez Public Radio station KCHU needed a reporter, and Ellen picked up the microphone.
Since then, she has literally traveled the length of the state, from Attu to Eagle and from Barrow to Juneau, covering Alaska stories on the ground for the AK show, Alaska News Nightly, the Alaska Morning News and for Anchorage public radio station, KSKA
elockyer (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8446 | About Ellen

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