Denali View South is located at mile 135.2 of the Parks Highway. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
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Reclaim Denali Name

On a clear day, you can see Denali from many surrounding communities, like Willow, Alaska. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
On a clear day, you can see Denali from many surrounding communities, like Willow, Alaska. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

I have been seeing news about having Mt. McKinley renamed back to its original name, Denali. U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan have introduced a bill to give Mount McKinley its historical Alaska Native name. I asked my Facebook friends to sound off on it. Most people agree to change it back to its original name. Most people I know already call it Denali, it’s original Athabascan name.

Do you think Mt. McKinley should be officially renamed Denali? If so, why? 

Here is Denali from the north, on the Parks Highway, south of Cantwell, Alaska. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
Here is Denali from the north, on the Parks Highway, south of Cantwell, Alaska. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

“Denali is the true name.” -Paul N Alberta John

“I once heard before we are suppose to call things by their right name. That everything has a name, we can take time to learn them or not.” -Leslie Jones

“Denali, because that was the original name. It also sounds more “Alaskan”.” –Sharon Carey

“I have always called it by its original name~Denali so It should be made official.” -Marlene Adams

“Its an Alaskan internal affair, not Lower 48 issue.” – Will Yaska

“Yes. Place names should reflect the indigenous cultures and languages inherent to the area.” – Julie Biddle

“As a symbolic gesture, given the right audience and speaker(s), it could be a means to support a greater cause. Also, Denali is just a cool name!” – Richard Perry

“Yes!! In my mind Denali doesn’t have to be ‘renamed’ as its official name IS and has always been Denali. But in order to decolonize the name we have to go through the Western government channels to ‘rename’ it as they say. And the next mountain name we have to decolonize is ‘Mt. Edgecumbe’ in Sitka.” -Vivian Faith Prescott

“It sounds better and more Alaskan too! And know of a pretty lil’ girl named, Denalee!” – Gina McCarty

“Denali should remain that. That’s the real name. The people who came and changed every name didn’t know each place had a name.  The people who wrote about Alaska said it was ‘vast wastelands.’ It wasn’t because people were already living here and everything had a name. Every hill, knoll, river bends, slough had a native name according to where they lived and what language they spoke. They thought they were the first people here. It’s very interesting if you the time and read Alaska Native names on a map.” -Velma Schafer

“Denali was the original name. When outsiders first came to Alaska they renamed lots of people. They all had their native name and missionaries and miners rename them. I even heard of them giving people names of states, like Kentucky, Missouri, etc. Another story I heard was there were two brothers who were at different places when the along the Koyukuk River and they were given different last names.” – Dorothy Yatlin

“There are more pressing issues than to rename Deenaalee the tall one – n no it’s not the great one. Ask any elder in Hughes they all will say so. Murkowski and Sullivan have to work towards more important stuffs. This makes us all look like idiots. Ohio should worry about Ohio quit telling the Last Frontier what to do.” -Margaret I. Williams

“My told me story about Denali. It was how a medicine man escape up Denali. when he got to the top it was so cold he peed on himself to keep warm, but he ended up freezing up there. There was a conflict and the one escaped to the top. Yes, It would be a blessing to ‘Get the name back to Denali’.” -Rhoda Stertzer

“Yes the name. Should be Denali. That was the name from the beginning of time.” – Anna Frank

“There is a word for everything on earth and beyond in Dinjii zhuh ginjik.” (Native people language) – Darlene Reena Herbert

“It should never have been changed to McKinley. It’s name is Denali.” -Nathan Shafer

“Denali was the mountain’s first name. Renaming Denali with the name “Mount McKinley” is a form of cultural imperialism (see https://www.nytimes.com/books/first/l/loewen-lies.html). It’s somewhat akin to what happened with Native people when non-native people decided they wanted to stay, and in order to stay, they had to dissolve the connection that Native people had with their culture and their land. Non-native people gave Native people new names that had nothing to do with who they were. Denali had a name already, and that fact should be recognized, but even better, it should be honored.” -Jennifer Aposuk McCarty

“It’s respectful to the people of the land in which it lies.” – Eva Sheldon

“In Nikolai we call it Denazii similar to the koyukon could understand the lingo a little bit!!! Koyukon that is.” -Daniel Esai

“It’s been called that longer than anything else by people from Alaska. And it sounds better than saying “McKinley” too.” – Lynn Lovegreen

“Yes Denali!! It would be nice if people would pronounce it right though.” -Gabriel Vent

“I like both names for it.” – Barbara Roddy

“This mountain reminds me of the original people that was here for many, many years ago. We all cannot go back in our minds even about 1,000 years but our ancestors were here. Back then they all spoke their language and I’m sure they had a name for it. Denali represents THE GREAT ONE. It sounds like what they would say.” – Joe Frank

“That was the original name. Denali. That means huge I think. I thought they did make Denali official.” – Catherine Williams

“Denali is its original name. So odd that Ohio congressmen have the power to force on that mountain the name of an Ohio-born president who never visited our state.” -Tracy Kalytiak

Here is a view from Denali South View (about mile 137 on the Parks Highway). Photo by Angela Gonzalez
Here is a view from Denali South View (about mile 137 on the Parks Highway). Photo by Angela Gonzalez

Thank you to my friends who shared their opinions. Join in the conversation and add your opinion in the comment. 

7 thoughts on “Reclaim Denali Name”

  1. Ever since I made my first Alaskan visit in September ’96 I have called ‘the Mountain’ Denali as I was told that was its Native Alaskan name. Indeed, part of my decision to relocate to Talkeetna was to live within the shadow of such an incredible mountain. I, too, have followed the recent news stories regarding the name change and I fully support giving this incredibly majestic natural resource the name it has always had from those who’ve known it best – Denali!

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