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.
President Obama wants to change the name of Mt. McKinley to Denali after more than 100 years. Great insult to Ohio. I will change back!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 1, 2015
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.