Mount McKinley Renamed Denali Out of Respect to Alaska Natives

posted: 08/31/15
by: Danny Clemens
Mount Denali

The tallest mountain peak in North America will now be known as Denali, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced over the weekend.

Alaska Natives have long referred to the mountain as Denali, which translates to "the great one." Although the mountain was renamed Mount McKinely (after then-presidential candidate William McKinley) around the turn of the twentieth century, it was still colloquially referred to as Denali throughout Alaska; the mountain is located within Denali National Park and Preserve.

Per Secretarial Order #3337, "President McKinley never visited, nor did he have any significant historical connection to, the mountain or to Alaska."

In 1975, Alaska Gov. Jay Hammond formally petitioned the United States Board of Geographic Names to restore the landmark's original name. The request was met with fierce opposition from Ohio lawmakers (McKinely was born in Niles, Ohio), although the Alaska Board of Geographic Names was successful in renaming the landmark within the state.

"This name change recognizes the sacred status of Denali to many Alaska Natives," Jewell said in a statement. "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."

Learn more about Denali National Park:

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Denali's Dogs Pull Their Weight

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