Alaska's Mount McKinley Gets A New (Old) Name

Photo: National Park Service
The tallest mountain in America is about to undergo a name change. On Sunday, President Obama announced that Alaska's Mount McKinley would be renamed Denali to better reflect the state's heritage and culture.

For generations, the Alaska Natives have referred to the mountain as Denali, meaning "the great one" or "the high one." But officially, the peak was renamed after then-presidential nominee William McKinley in 1896, by a gold prospector named William Dickey. Unclear as to why or how he was given that authority.

Since then, the name has been a point of contention between some people in McKinley's home state of Ohio and Alaskan natives (among many others) who prefer the historical moniker.

To the point that Hudson Stuck, the explorer who led the first successful expedition to the mountain's peak, wrote this in preface to his book, Ascent to Denali: "Forefront in this book, because forefront in the author's heart and desire, must stand a plea for the restoration to the greatest mountain in North America of its immemorial native name."

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski (R) introduced the renaming legislation in January, but was initially blocked by Ohio lawmakers. So, it's a powerful and significant move on Obama's part, using his executive power to make this change.

The announcement comes a day before the President's trip to Alaska, where he will champion for more aggressive ways to combat climate change, reports The New York Times. Suprisingly, he will also be the first sitting American president to ever visit the region.
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