Denali is located in Alaska and at 20,310 feet above sea level, it’s the highest mountain in North America. Strikingly, it rises 20,156 feet above the surrounding landscape, and is one of the most prominent mountains in the world.
This sacred Native American site has been the focus of media attention lately – and it’s all because of a name. Its former name was Mount McKinley which was named in 1896 by a prospector after presidential candidate William McKinley. It wasn’t until August of 2015 that the U.S. Department of the Interior renamed it to its local name, Denali.
Many Native American tribes in Alaska have similar names for the mountain. These tribes also have an important spiritual connection to Denali. Their folklore about the mountain is not always the same, but they share a common acknowledgement that Denali is an important and sacred place.
A mountain that rises so dramatically on the landscape must have been important to the ancient people who lived there. Imagine living among those ancient Alaskan tribes, and seeing that enormous giant on the landscape every day. Of course Denali would be entwined into their ancient lore. For us today the retelling of these tales is also important, because it helps us maintain the human and spiritual connection to this great and ancient mountain.
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