March 16, 2010

US Board on Geographic Names

How places get renamed today:

Place names are the domain of an obscure U.S. board

Mt. Diablo or Mt. Reagan? And shouldn't it be the Gulf of America? The U.S. Board on Geographic Names has to decide.

By Richard Simon
In an upcoming decision, the panel will take up a controversial request by a Bay Area man who wants to change Mt. Diablo in Contra Costa County to Mt. Reagan because he finds the name, Spanish for "the devil," to be offensive.

His request touched off a flood of Internet opposition, and the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voted against the idea and sent an opposition letter to the federal panel.
And:It also approved more than a dozen new names or name changes, including changing Squaw Creek in Montana to Hot Dance Creek, one of about 200 requests since 1995 to eliminate the name squaw, regarded by many as offensive.

What about Squaw Valley, Calif., site of the 1960 Winter Olympics? The board has no say over the privately owned ski resort.
And:Though the board operates with little notice, it does, after all, operate in Washington, where even the smallest issue can generate controversy.

Alaska's effort to change the name of Mt. McKinley to Denali, an Athabascan name meaning "The High One" or "The Great One," has been blocked for three decades by lawmakers from President McKinley's home state of Ohio.
Comment:  Do Ohioans think McKinley will vanish from our history books if we remove his name from the mountain? What portion of Americans could identify the mountain or the percent? What fraction of that small percentage could tell you the mountain was named after the president?

Californians aren't demanding that we name places after Nixon, so why are Ohioans so vain and parochial? Amazing that they believe protecting some dead white guy's reputation is important to their well-being. I can just imagine their "thinking":

"McKinley imposed high tariffs, launched the Spanish-American War, and annexed the kingdom of Hawaii! And he was assassinated! He deserves a mountain in Alaska, a place with no significance to him! Remembering his less-than-stellar presidency is more important than giving back the Athabascans' stolen heritage!"

For more on the subject, see Restoring Traditional Indian Names.

Below:  "Alaska's effort to change the name of Mt. McKinley to Mt. Denali has been blocked for three decades by lawmakers from President McKinley’s home state of Ohio." (Al Grillo/Associated Press)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Everyone! I hope all is well and I look forward to be a great contributor to this community. Feel free to introduce yourself so I can get to know you better...