1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

North America's tallest peak renamed

August 31, 2015

After a 40-year political battle, North America's tallest mountain in the US state of Alaska will be restored to its Native Alaskan name, Denali. The decision came on the eve of a presidential visit to Alaska.

Mount McKinley - Denali
Image: Reuters

The US Department of the Interior announced the change Sunday. The name of the continent's 6,168-meter (20,236 feet) mountain will change from Mount McKinley to Denali.

"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 US Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

Alaskans have informally called the mountain Denali - the traditional Koyukon Athabascan name meaning "the High One" - for years. But since 1896, the US government has recognized the name after the 25th president, William McKinley, who was born in the US state of Ohio and assassinated early in his second term.

In 1975, the state of Alaska officially designated the mountain as Denali, and has since pressed Washington to follow suit. Opposition usually came from Ohio lawmakers who wanted the name to honor the Ohio-born late president despite the fact that McKinley never visited Alaska.

Locals have long called it 'Denali'

Sunday's announcement came as President Obama prepared to depart early Monday on a three-day visit to Alaska, becoming the first sitting president to travel north of the Arctic Circle.

US Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who had pushed legislation for years to change the name, said her state was "honored" to recognize the mountain as Denali - a change in tone for the Republican, who had spoken out against Obama's energy policies in anticipation of his visit to her state.

jar/jr (AP, Reuters)