I would like to commend and second Christopher P. O’Neil’s July 1 letter, “Good editorial – but it’s just ‘Katahdin.’ ” I initially cringed at the incongruity in the title of your June 26 editorial, “Our View: Give Mount Katahdin the respect it requires.”

After reading Mr. O’Neil’s letter, I grabbed my tattered copy of Stephen Clark’s book and quote further from his foreword: “Mount Greatest Mountain – this is not only grammatically incorrect, but a misinterpretation of the Abenaki translation of the mountain’s name. The U.S. Geological Service and other official agencies have failed to recognize this when they slapped a ‘Mount’ on Katahdin many years ago when honoring Indian traditions and language was not considered to be of much value.” This has most certainly changed.

Today, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN) supports and promotes the official use of geographic names derived from Native American languages. Expert documentation of names in current use is encouraged. And there is precedent, with Denali in Alaska a prime example. Locally, we now have Big Moose Mountain. The BGN accepts requests to change the names of geographical features. They must be compelling. Feedback from the community, state government and Baxter State Park would be requested. The Abenaki would be consulted. Legislative action as a precursor to a request would be most helpful. The Press Herald Editorial Board, respectfully nudged, could weigh in. It may take a few years so let’s begin.

Gary Dick


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