Letter: Mount McKinley controversy will eventually just disappear

Regarding the Mount McKinley name controversy, the Compass article by E.J.R. David (Feb. 2) pushed me over the edge.  Now anyone who dares to express a preference for McKinley is branded a racist.

Please. The name was applied, before any of us were alive, by a prospector who wanted to support a presidential candidate who favored the gold standard. The mountain also had names other than Denali used by the Denaina, the Aleut and probably other Native Alaska people.

So who decided that Denali should be the proper name?  Our congressional delegation?  A gathering of First Peoples?  Public sentiment as reported in the Daily News? That aside, I’m pretty sure the Ohio congressional delegation is not continuing to block the name change to promote colonialism, oppression and racism, but I don’t really know.

I do know these things:  As long as I have been alive, the name has been McKinley.  I grew up in Fairbanks, from where, on good days, I could look out over the Tanana Valley and see the gorgeous pastel glow of an immense geological wonder, out of reach and looking as though it was sinking into the horizon.  To me in the 50s and 60s, McKinley represented mystery and unobtainable goals. 

Later in life I became a geologist and understood a little more about how the mountain came to be. I also learned what it will become — it is not permanent. For everyone who frets about what to call this pile of rock, rest assured that it has already started to go away.  In the fullness of time, ice, wind, water, gravity and unimaginable geological forces will reduce this grand edifice to cobbles, gravel, sand and silt and these will be washed into rivers and the seas and McKinley, by whatever “official” name, will be no more.

— Dave Stanley