Obama to Rename Mt. McKinley, Denali in Honor of Native Americans

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Obama hears ya, Native Americans.
Obama hears ya, Native Americans.

President Obama announced on Sunday that 20,320-foot Mount Mckinley in Alaska, North America’s highest Peak, will be renamed Denali.  Obama will use his executive power to bring back the mountain’s Native American name.

This is a very bold move by Obama and it has already upset Ohio law makers.  Ohio is where president McKinley, the mountain’s former namesake, was from.

“Mount McKinley … has held the name of our nation’s 25th President for over 100 years.  This landmark is a testament to his countless years of service to our country.” – Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio

“We must retain this national landmark’s name in order to honor the legacy of this great American president and patriot,” Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, whose district includes McKinley’s hometown of Niles, in eastern Ohio.

Obama will be visiting Alaska for three days this week promoting action against climate change. 


The name of Denali has long been regarded as an example of cultural imperialism where tradicional Native American names where replaced with American names that had little or nothing to do with the place.

Mt. Mckinley, for example, was named for president William McKinley who never once stepped foot in Alaska.  Mt. McKinley was first named McKinley in 1896 and was officially recognized in 1917.


In the language of the Koyukon Athabascans, who have lived in Alaska for thousands of years, Denali means “the high one” or “the great one”. 

“For generations, Alaskans have known this majestic mountain as ‘the great one,’” she said in the video, appearing in front of the snow-topped mountain, its peak reaching above the clouds. “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 Lisa Murkowski, republican of Alaska who introduced legislation to rename the mountain in January, 2015

Obama will be the first sitting president to visit land under tribal jurisdiction in 15 years.  Obama is attempting to make good on 2008 campaign promises to improve Native American lives in the USA.

“There’s no denying that for some Americans, the deck’s been stacked against them, sometimes for generations, and that’s been true of many Native Americans.  But if we’re working together, we can make things better.” – President Obama

20,320′ Denali has had around 32,000 people reach its summit at somewhere around a 50% success rate.

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