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My Turn: ‘Unnamed peak’ already has a name

Posted: June 24, 2014 - 8:42am

Editor’s note: The following is a letter sent to the Alaska Historical Commission and U.S. Board of Geographic Names.

Ach kwei yoo x̱at duwasáakw.

Dleit kháa xh’éináxh Amanda Scribner-Mallott yoo xhat duwasáakw.

Yeil Kwaashk’i Kwáan naaxh xhat sitee.

Noow Hit áyá haa naa kahídi.

Danish, French, German, Irish yádi áyá xhát.

Ax éesh Jon Scribner.

Juneau-x’ xhat khoowdzitee.

Juneau-x’ yéi xhat yatee.

 

My Tlingit name is Ach kwei.

My English name is Amanda Scribner-Mallott.

I am of the Raven Kwaashk’i Kwáan, Noow Hit.

I am a child of the Danish, French, German and Irish.

My father is the late Jon Scribner.

I was born in Juneau and live in Juneau.

 

I am writing on behalf of my mother, Mrs. Kit Scribner, and the family of Jon Scribner in response to the June 5 Alaska Historical Commission letter seeking comment and the U.S. Board of Geographic Names and U.S. Forest Service request for public comment printed in the Juneau Empire on June 17. As you know, on May 24, 2013, the Alaska Historical Commission approved the March 1, 2013 request to name an “unnamed peak” Mt. Scribner, or Scribner Peak, in memory and regard for Jon Scribner, who died in 2005 while hiking on Mt. Stroller White near Juneau.

On June 13, we learned about the submission of a second proposal for the same mountain/peak, which seeks to restore the indigenous Tlingit place name “Tlaxhsatanjín”, when the June 5, 2014 letter from the Alaska Historical Commission sent to those who submitted the original proposal to commemorate Jon Scribner, was forwarded to our family. On June 14, 2014, Juneau media reported a U.S. Board of Geographic Names and Forest Service Press Release seeking public comment on the two proposals, which had been submitted nearly a year apart.

When the Scribner family first learned of the second proposal to restore the mountain’s original name, we all agreed that we wanted to support the makers of this proposal. There was never intent to replace a given name.

We know our husband, father and grandfather would be humbled by his colleagues’ 2013 intentions to acknowledge his dedication and contributions to the state by naming an “unnamed peak” in his honor, as we are by all of those who voiced support of commemorating the life and memory of Jon Scribner. However, we respectfully request that the proposal to name this peak in Jon Scribner’s honor be withdrawn out of his deep respect and love for this land and its peoples.

We endorse the restoration of this mountain’s indigenous name and greatly appreciate the efforts of many to share the profound history and stories of place – haa aaní – this beautiful place we all call “home.” Our husband, father and grandfather respected and embraced the understanding that people and place are deeply connected, and we would be so grateful to play a small part in advancing the initiative to restore this mountain to the history and characteristics of its original name “Tlaxhsatanjín.”

We look forward to a community dialogue and collaboration that seeks to restore Tlingit place names throughout this region. We believe that withdrawing the earlier proposal out of respect for the most recent is in keeping with the spirit of Jon Scribner to respect the history and protocol of place and its people.

Gunalchéesh.

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