A sitting U.S. president has never traveled north of the Arctic Circle. But that changes Wednesday when President Barack Obama visits a community in Alaska as part of a trip to improve ties with Native Americans and highlight the effects of climate change in the country. Obama has said that during his three-day tour of Alaska he wants to hear what everyday Alaskans are concerned about, Reuters reported.
Obama was scheduled to visit Kotzebue, a mostly Inupiat village about 33 miles north of the Arctic Circle, which has seen much coastal erosion because of rising sea levels. He also plans to tell those in Kotzebue that he has found new ways for the U.S. government to improve its relations with Native Americans.
Some of these improvements would cost little but have broad impacts, Obama said. He already made a symbolic gesture of good will toward Native Americans when earlier this week he changed the name of Mount McKinley, the United States’ tallest mountain, to Denali, the mountain's original, native name, which translates to “High One” or “Great One.”
A gold prospector in the region renamed the mountain in 1896 after he heard the news of William McKinley being nominated to become president. Though locals have been trying to get the name changed back for years, some, including the speaker of the U.S. House of Representative, Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, denounced the move.
— KTUU.com (@Ch2KTUU) September 2, 2015
Some in Kotzebue said they want Obama to see that climate change has hit the area but hope that Obama doesn’t restrict energy production because the jobs the sector produces are important to the region. Obama is using Kotzebue, and villages that have been hurt by soil erosion and climate change in general, as examples of the real effects of climate change in the country.