Mount McKinley Will Again Be Called Denali

31 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Mount McKinley to be Renamed Denali: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know.

President Barack Obama will change the name of North America’s tallest mountain peak from Mount McKinley to Denali, the White House said Sunday, bestowing the traditional Alaska Native name on the eve of a historic presidential visit to Alaska. Mount McKinley — the 20,237-foot mountain and the tallest in North America — has been renamed Denali, as it was originally known by Alaska Natives before it was renamed to honor President William McKinley.

The mountain was first called Mount McKinley by a gold prospector in the late 1800s as a way to politically support William McKinley’s bid for president. By renaming the peak Denali, an Athabascan word meaning “the high one,” Obama is wading into a sensitive and decades-old conflict between residents of Alaska and Ohio. Alaskans have informally called the 20,320-foot mountain Denali for years, but the federal government recognizes its name invoking the 25th president, William McKinley, who was born in Ohio and assassinated early in his second term. “With our own sense of reverence for this place, we are officially renaming the mountain Denali in recognition of the traditions of Alaska Natives and the strong support of the people of Alaska,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

Julie Kitka, president of the Alaska Federation of Natives, said in an interview Sunday that the new policy announcement would have a concrete as well as psychological effect on Native Alaskans. “It’s symbolic,” Kitka said, “but the practical thing is now on all the maps and all the descriptions it will have the traditional name. During the trip the president will view the effects of climate change firsthand during a hike at the Exit Glacier of Kenai Fjords National Park near Seward, and a ride aboard a Coast Guard cutter. That same year, the state government began to refer to the peak as Denali, despite the federal designation as Mount McKinley remaining in place, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Despite McKinley having no connection to both the mountain the state of Alaska, politicians in his home state of Ohio fought against the name change for several decades. For the local population, White House advisors say, climate change is a “present-tense issue.” Rising sea levels and coastal erosion claim a football field-sized parcel of land each day, requiring citizens to consider extreme steps like the relocation of entire communities to survive, they say.

But when European Americans discovered it in the 19th century, they renamed it Densmore’s Mountain and, later, Mount McKinley in an effort to boost the presidential candidacy of Republican William McKinley. But first Monday Obama will address the GLACIER Conference in Anchorage, which includes representatives of other Arctic nations, and later meet with state officials and representatives from Alaskan native populations, when the Denali announcement will come. That’s because the United States Board on Geographic Names has a long-standing policy of not making name changes under consideration by Congress. “While the board does have a policy of deferring action when a matter is being considered by Congress, contradictory bills on this issue have been proposed by various members of Congress since the late 1970s,” Jewell said in her order.

On Sunday, Murkowski hailed the president’s decision. “For centuries, Alaskans have known this majestic mountain as the ‘Great One,'” she said in a statement from Denalie’s Ruth Glacier. “Today we are honored to be able to officially recognize the mountain as Denali. Upon hearing the news that McKinley, a Republican, had received his party’s nomination to be president, the prospector named it after him and the name was formally recognized.

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