Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A Molehill Out of a Mountain

Mt. McKinley is no more. The highest peak in North America has been wiped out with the stroke of a pen. 

The mountain still stands; now it’s called Denali.

Actually, the mountain has always been called Denali.
It’s like that Monty Python routine about a guy whose name is spelled Raymond Luxury Yacht but it’s pronounced Throatwobbler Mangrove. OK, it’s nothing like that bit at all but anyway…

This mountain was named for a former US President, William H McKinley. Now here are a couple of wacky facts:
  1. McKinley never set foot on the mountain that bore his name.
  2. He had not set foot in Alaska.
  3. At the time McKinley was President, Alaska was not a state.
So what was the massive edifice of rock doing being named after this particular President? A prospector back in 1896 decided Denali Mountain needed another name and what the hell, McKinley sounds like a good name for a mountain. It’s all alliterative and stuff.  In 1917, the US Government made it official and Denali became McKinley. Screw the native people who first named the damned thing.

Except no one in Alaska called it McKinley. People kept calling it Denali. Screw the government who had no business renaming their mountain without so much as a say-so. In 1975, the Alaska state government officially re-christened the mountain as Denali and began urging the US government to do the same. 

Back in 2008, then presidential candidate Barack Obama promised he would work to improve relations with Native Americans. Getting near the end of his 2nd term, Obama realized, “Oh shit! I better do something about that.” So he signed an order renaming Denali back to Denali.

Everyone in Alaska is cool with this. Alaskans have been lobbying for the mountain to be officially acknowledged as Denali for many years. So the people of Alaska greeted this as a good thing. Hell, even Alaskan Republicans had to suck it up and give props to Obama for doing what needed to be done for a long time.

Meanwhile, Ohio is pissed.

McKinley the President was born in Ohio and native Ohioans did not want to let go of the mountain that, much like McKinley himself, most people in Ohio had never actually seen. Now it seems to me that the obvious thing to do is to find a wonderfully beautiful and awesome part of Ohio and name that after McKinley. But this is Ohio and there’s fuck all that meets the “wonderfully beautiful and awesome” description.

Just kidding. Stay classy, Ohio! 

I'll be back with another post tomorrow. Until then, be good to one another. 

I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You

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