Native teens' names added to plaque on first Denali summit
A marker celebrating the conquest of North America's tallest peak is back on display at the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame – but with a minor change.
A photo at the hall shows Alaska Native climber Walter Harper and the members of his expedition, the first to summit Denali in 1913. The picture of Harper and his expedition are back on display at the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame, along with a plaque listing Harper's team – which now includes the names of John Fredsen and Esaias George, two Native teenagers who also took part in the expedition.
"We're all about the achievement, but the fact they were two Alaska Native youths makes it extra-special, I think," said Harlow Robinson, the Hall of Fame's director. "Anytime we can celebrate our heritage, our First People in Alaska, that's great."
Robinson made the decision to add Fredsen and George's names, after he realized the two are the only ones in the group not listed on the plaque.
"The more I leaned about, the more I felt like it was the right decision," he said.
"When the name was changed to Denali, we felt it was appropriate to reflect that in the plate," Robinson said.
The two teens did not make it to the top of the mountain, as they managed the base camp. That detail, Robinson thought, didn't diminish their contribution to history.
"There are people who don't summit that play significant roles and these two young men, that was their capacity. Their role as support was critical to the expedition," Robinson said.
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