The White House announced Sunday that the Obama administration has decided to rename America’s tallest Mountain. Alaska’s Mount McKinley will now officially be called “Denali.”
The name McKinley comes from the Ohio-born President William McKinley and has long been a source of conflict between Alaska and Ohio. Denali is an Athabascan word that means “the high one.”
Obama’s decision is a weak attempt to gather Alaskan support for his energy agenda disguised as a nice gesture to Alaskan Natives, who have referred to the mountain as Denali for many years.
“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 Sally Jewell, Interior Secretary.
Ohio politicians are insulted, but it doesn’t seem like they can do anything about it. Republican Rep. Bob Gibbs of Ohio calls the decision a “constitutional overreach” and a “political stunt.”
Obama will spend three days in Alaska this week, marking the first visit to the Alaska Arctic by a sitting president. He plans to appear at a climate change summit, discuss the threat of global warming, and announce new plans for Alaskan communities. Obama’s itinerary also includes a glacier hike, a visit to the small town of Kotzebue, and a meeting with fishermen in Dillingham.
Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who has been known to speak out against Obama’s climate change policies, changed her tune when the President decided to visit her 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,” she said.
Alaska, a state that depends heavily on oil revenue, has long been skeptical in regards to climate change. “I want to highlight one aspect of Arctic policy that I hope will be at the forefront of the discussion: the people who live in the region, and their need for sustainable economic activity,” said Murkowski, praising oil revenue as important for funding communications, medical advances, and basic infrastructure.
Obama’s Alaskan tour is carefully choreographed to showcase melting sea ice, thawing permafrost, and eroding shorelines in an effort to make the so-called dangers of global warming visible.
According to the National Park service, Denali towers 20,320 feet above sea level and increases by about one millimeter each year.