What others say: Changing Denali name likely Trump pillow talk

  • Monday, November 28, 2016 9:07pm
  • Opinion

Two wrongs don’t make a right.
We hope President-elect Donald Trump remembers that during any future conversations (or tweets) in regards to changing the name of Denali back to Mount McKinley.

The name change was one of many vows Trump the candidate made during his rise to the White House. He called the name change, announced by President Barack Obama on the eve of his Alaska visit in 2015, a “great insult to Ohio.” He later declared in a tweet that if elected he’d change the name back.

The name Mount McKinley was already a great insult to Alaska Natives, particularly Athabascans, who hunted, fished and lived in the mountain’s shadow for thousands of years before white men staked their claim. As if that alone weren’t enough to warrant using its original name, we’ll again remind everyone that Ohio-born William McKinley, our 25th president, never stepped foot in Alaska, and the mountain was given the name by a prospector who neither “discovered” it nor had had the right to name it.

Our nation’s highest peak (20,310 feet) already had a name, given to it by Alaska’s first people, when William A. Dickey renamed it.

Trump the candidate has made lots of promises which Trump the president-elect has already backed away from. We wouldn’t be surprised if his desire to rename Denali was merely pillow talk to win Ohio’s electoral votes earlier this month. If Trump is serious, however, this is one battle he won’t win easily.

It took a century for Alaskans to win back the name of their most famous mountain, and any effort to undo that change would be hard fought. For Trump, such a move would also be seen as one more slight to a minority group. So far it’s mostly been Trump’s words that have offended minorities; changing Denali’s name would show his actions as president follow suit.

It’s unlikely Congress would rush to Trump’s aid in making this happen, so Trump would need an executive order, the very thing he’s often criticized Obama for using. Again, it’s a no-win scenario for Trump.

It’s more likely this issue will cool off soon enough, until Trump needs the support of Ohio again. For the next few years we don’t expect to hear much about changing the name of Denali back to Mount McKinley — until around 2020 when the race for the White House heats up once more.

­— Juneau Empire, Nov. 25, 2016

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