The Name Game

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As I am sure most of you have heard, the famous peak formerly known as Mount McKinley has been reverted back to its traditional name, Denali. The U.S. Board on Geographic Names may have a few other cases to attend to, now that the first name change has passed. Each case is heard and verdict decided by the locals and other relevant parties.

The nation’s first monument, Devil’s Tower, is one of the sites currently up for debate. According to a report published by National Geographic, “ The board is considering a proposal from Native American spiritual leader Arvol Looking Horse to rename Devil’s Towera monolithic rock that rises 1,267 feet (386 meters) above its surroundings in northeast Wyoming—to the traditional Sioux and Cheyenne name, Bear Lodge.” Mount Rainier is another spot that locals have petitioned a name revision; however the proposals are continually rejected due to insufficient evidence that another term is widely used. Like Mount Rainier, the explorer George Vancouver named Mount St. Helens in the late 18th century, and may be evaluated to revert to local nomenclature.

Restoring names of prominent natural sites in the Americas to accurately reflect the identity of the area brings to light a different historical narrative. Rather than revering European and early American explorers, this practice acknowledges the displacement caused by the exploratory endeavors of the early American settlers.

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