What to Know
- A Vermont state board unanimously rejected a petition drive to change the name of Mount Ascutney.
- A petition drive had requested the mountain's name be changed to Kaskadenak.
- The committee said it would reconsider the petition in the future, should more public support emerge.
A closely-watched vote in central Vermont Tuesday saw a state board choose to keep the name of a well-known mountain as it is.
Mount Ascutney is an Upper Valley landmark so established that streets, a hospital, a town, businesses, a state park, and more share the name.
The Vermont Board of Libraries, which is in charge of naming mountains, lakes, and other features, voted in Barre to keep the name of Mount Ascutney as it is.
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A petition drive had requested the name be changed to Kaskadenak, with backers working for a few years now to convince the state that would be a closer reflection of what native Abenaki people once called the mountain.
“The mountain’s been there millions of years,” petition drive leader Robert Hutchins told necn affiliate NBC 5 News in September 2016. “And if it could name itself — either what we named it or what the Abenakis named it — I think it would probably pick the one that had a meaning.”
The naming board said it heard considerable opposition from local residents, as well as concerns from town and state officials over a change.
“When 90 percent of people who respond out of a thousand people responding say they’re against the change and five percent are simply saying ‘yes’ and five percent are saying ‘other,’ it shows there’s a lack of public support for the change,” board member Josh Fitzhugh said after the vote in Barre Tuesday morning.
A Smithsonian linguist even wrote the board, to say he considers Ascutney an authentic name.
“Both [Ascutney and Kaskadenak or Cascadnac] reflect variable features of local Native American language and of English from different times,” libraries board chair Bruce Post read to the committee from a letter from linguist Ives Goddard.
Post noted that in the past, the board has supported name changes of natural features to reflect Native American heritage.
While no switches are coming to Mount Ascutney, the committee said it would reconsider the petition in the future, should more public support emerge.