UPDATE 2-Obama changing name of Alaska’s Mount McKinley to Denali

31 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Barack Obama changing name of Alaska’s Mount McKinley to Denali.

Say goodbye to Mt. WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration will change the name of North America’s tallest mountain peak from Mount McKinley to Denali, the White House said Sunday, a major symbolic gesture to Alaska Natives on the eve of President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Alaska. By renaming the peak Denali, an Athabascan word meaning “the high one,” Obama waded into a sensitive and decades-old conflict between residents of Alaska and Ohio.

Alaskans have informally called the 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. Obama is slated to tour a receding glacier and meet with people in remote Arctic communities whose way of life is affected by rising ocean levels, creating images designed to build support for regulations to curb carbon emissions.

The peak was named Mount McKinley in 1896 after a gold prospector exploring the region heard that Ohioan William McKinley, a champion of the gold standard, had won the Republican nomination for president. Bob Gibbs, a Republican whose district is south of Cleveland, introduced his own bill eight days before Murkowski’s in an effort to keep McKinley’s name alive in Alaska. Alaskans had been blocked in Congress by Ohio politicians, who wanted to stick with McKinley as a lasting tribute to the 25th U.S. president, who served from 1897 until his assassination in 1901. The president was also expected to announce new steps to help Alaska Native communities on Wednesday when he becomes the first sitting president to visit the Alaska Arctic.

The move elicited praise from Alaska Governor Bill Walker, a Republican turned independent, and Republican elected officials, who more typically are critical of an administration they see as hostile to the oil and gas interests of their state. “I’d like to thank the president for working with us to achieve this significant change to show honor, respect, and gratitude to the Athabascan people of Alaska,” said Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who led the fight for the Denali name in Congress. Craig Fleener, a Gwich’in Athabascan who is an adviser to Walker, called Denali “a hallmark of Alaskan identity” and said the name change was rich in significance. At 20,320 feet, the mountain stands as the continent’s tallest, and is still growing at a rate of about one millimeter per year, according to the National Park Service. Known for its majestic views, the mountain is dotted with glaciers and covered at the top with snow year-round, with powerful winds that make it difficult for the adventurous few who seek to climb it. But those efforts and legislation in Congress have been stymied by members of Ohio’s congressional delegation eager to protect the namesake of the state’s native son.

Board on Geographic Names had been deferring to Congress since 1977, and cited a 1947 law that allows the Interior Department to change names unilaterally when the board fails to act “within a reasonable time.” The board shares responsibility with the Interior Department for naming such landmarks. 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.

Twitter-news
Our partners
Follow us
Contact us
Our contacts

About this site