Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Denali/McKinley Controversy

There has been much passionate debate, wailing, teeth gnashing, rending of garments and the like over a seemingly endless controversy that has divided the nation since 1975.

The denizens of King Crank's Lair -- myself and my cadre of semi-loyal followers (you are no doubt familiar with the phrase, herding cats) -- being residents of Mr. McKinleys Ohio (well, technically) are no exception. Personally, my unwavering position is written in stone -- one way or another, I don't care. I've maintained this position consistently since I first became aware there was a controversy, a few hours ago.

Being a self-identified current events junkie (see Introduction) I've been aware of the impending name change for a couple of days or so. I realize, however, that many of you, having an actual life, may be completely unaware of not only the name change but the controversy behind it as well.

Not to worry. In keeping with this blog's theoretical mission statement (by which I mean there is no actual mission statement but hey, it could happen) I present the following in the spirit of public service.

The Mount McKinley moniker was chosen by William Dickey, an explorer from Seattle who was leading some gold prospectors around and "discovered" a huge mountain. When Mr. Dickey and his buds returned to the lower 48 (do you suppose that the Hawaiians ever refer to the mainland as the eastern 48? I'm just askin'...) he wrote an article for the New York Sun newspaper about his adventures in the Klondike gold rush.

He states in his article that the first news he heard on the way out of the wilderness was that William McKinley had been nominated by the Republicrats to be president. He states that "we" decided to name the mountain after the nominee, meaning that he and his buds, based on no authority that I can find, took it upon themselves to re-name the largest mountain in North America.

Rename? Yup. According to Wikipedia, the Indians that lived there called it Denali. A German, Ferdinand von Wrangel, who ran things in Alaska for the Russians for a minute named it Tenada. The commonly used name, by the Russians, was Bolshaya Gora (big mountain). The first English name was Densmore's Mountain, Mr. Densmore being a local gold prospector. There are even more names available, but we'll stick with the more commonly used ones.

There's even an unconfirmable, but generally accepted story, that Mr. Dickey, an advocate of a gold monetary standard, named the mountain after McKinley (also a supporter of the gold standard) to mess with the heads of a bunch of prospectors he knew that supported McKinley's Depublican opponent and famous proponent of a silver standard, William Jennings Bryan.

A couple of US Geological Service reports in the early 1900s used the name Mount McKinley and when President Mckinley was assassinated in 1901, to honor him, Congress officially named the mountain after him -- 16 years later.

If the Depublicans had put that much work into Obamacare we'd have a system like Singapore's. That's how things stood until all hell broke loose in 1975. Well, maybe only a suburb of hell, certainly not center city hell.

The local Alaskan officials in charge of such things petitioned the federal officials in charge of such things to change the name back to what the Indians, who were there first after all, called the mountain -- Denali.

Into the breach stepped Ralph Straus Regula. Mr. Regula was a congressperson that proudly represented the people of Canton, Ohio from 1973 to 2009. President McKinley, though born in Niles, Ohio moved to Canton after the Civil War and the rest is, well, history.

Oh, before I forget, there's a very nice memorial in Niles that's well worth a visit if you're into that sort of thing. Also, you can visit his restored childhood home that's on the main street of town, just a few blocks from the memorial.

I just spent an all-nighter trying to find out why no one seems to care that apparently the McKinleys were the first people in the world to have a house covered with vinyl siding but I can find no mention of this fact anywhere. Rest assured I will not rest until I get to the bottom of this.

Sorry...where was I? Oh yeah, Mr. Regula. The congressperson, despite having a productive career in Congress, managed to find the time to block the name change by a series of procedural maneuvers over the years. Personally, I think a more productive use of his time would've been finding a way to change the official spelling of the word maneuvers; but you have to choose your battles and Mr. Regula was determined that President McKinley should retain the honor bestowed by Congress and fought valiantly to prevent the denaming of the mountain.

He persevered in spite of the fact Mr. McKinley had never visited Alaska or is even linked to the state or it's majestic mountain in any particular way. Well, he was the president of the country it was part of. At the time of his death, there were about 60,000 souls living in the Last Frontier, that's about the size of The Jewel of the Midwest -- Warren, Ohio (right up the road from Niles), before the local economy collapsed and they lost a few folks (20,000, more or less).

The Gubmint never sleeps. President Obama, consistent in his policy to ignore Congress whenever he knows he's right, engineered the denaming to create a sort of commercial for a three-day global warming road show in Alaska; Rob Portman, Senator (R.-OH), has reportedly issued no less than five tweets in protest.

Keep up the good work guys. Incidentally, denaming is the official technical term for changing the name of a national landmark back to one of the names it had before it had an official US Gubmint name.

By the way, it's Denali, not Mount Denali because Denali translates as, "The Big One" or "The High One" so it would be like calling it Mount The Big One or Mount The High One. Apparently, the local Indians weren't particularly creative when it came to naming things. But considering that Alaska was one of the first states to decriminalize weed, they may have been somewhat prescient.

 Have an OK day.

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©2017 Mark Mehlmauer   (The Flyoverland Crank)

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