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Mount McKinley renamed Denali, to reflect the heritage of Alaska Natives


August 31 2015
Monday PM

(SitNews) - The U.S. Department of Interior and the White House announced Sunday the name of Mount McKinley is officially renamed Denali. This announcement comes after Interior Secretary Sally Jewell issued a Secretarial Order officially changing the name of North America’s tallest mountain.

Alaska Governor Bill Walker and Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott were both pleased with the announcement.

jpg Mount McKinley renamed Denali, to reflect the heritage of Alaska Natives

Photo courtesy National Park Service

“For decades, Alaskans have been urging the federal government to recognize Denali by its proper name. I am pleased that the White House and the Department of Interior have taken the necessary steps to finally make this important change,” said Governor Walker. “Alaska’s place names should reflect and respect the rich cultural history of our state, and officially recognizing the name Denali does just that.”

Known for generations by Alaska’s Koyukon Athabaskan people as Denali, or “The Great One”, the 20,237-foot mountain was formally named Mount McKinley in 1917 after U.S. President William McKinley. For decades, Alaskans have fought passionately to recognize their mountain by its true name, Denali. Governor Walker and Lieutenant Governor Mallott said the Department of Interior’s decision to recognize the name Denali honored Alaska’s First People and their culture.

“Alaska’s Athabaskan people have lived in the Interior for thousands of years, and recognizing the name Denali brings great respect to their culture and history in our great state,” said Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott. “I thank President Obama and Secretary Jewell for taking up this issue, which Alaskans care so deeply about.”

While on Denali’s Ruth Glacier, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) responded to the administration’s decision to restore the mountain’s traditional name, saying: “For centuries, Alaskans have known this majestic mountain as the ‘Great One.’ Today we are honored to be able to officially recognize the mountain as Denali. 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.”

Senator Murkowski has long advocated for Denali to officially be called Denali. She re-introduced legislation in the 114th Congress to officially rename the mountain as Denali.

Murkowski’s efforts are part of a long-standing effort by Alaskans to rename Denali. In 1975, the State of Alaska officially recognized “Denali” as the name of the peak, and requested action by the U.S. Board of Geographic Names to do the same. In 1980, Congress changed the name of Mount McKinley National Park to Denali National Park and Preserve.

In a prepared statement U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) said, "The Athabascan people named this great mountain thousands of years ago. They called it Denali, the ‘Great One.’ Denali belongs to Alaska and its citizens. The naming rights already went to ancestors of the Alaska Native people, like those of my wife’s family. For decades, Alaskans and members of our congressional delegation have been fighting for Denali to be recognized by the federal government by its true name. I’m gratified that the president respected this.”

Finalizing a process initiated by the State of Alaska in 1975, President Obama announced Sunday that the Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell used her authority to rename the mountain as “Denali.”

Quoting a fact sheet released by the White House, in 1896, a prospector emerged from exploring the mountains of central Alaska and received news that William McKinley had been nominated as a candidate for President of the United States. In a show of support, the prospector declared the tallest peak of the Alaska Range as “Mt. McKinley” - and the name stuck.




Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


Source of News:

Office of Alaska Governor Bill Walker

White House

Office of U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski

Office of U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan


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