The highest mountain of North America was on 28 August 2015 renamed as Denali instead of its existing name Mt McKinley by US President Barack Obama. This designation will now recognize the sacred status of Denali to generations of Alaska Natives.
The mountain, which sits in the 6 million-acre Denali national park, has been known as Denali in Alaska since 1975. Now officially, the Denali name will be used by all and it will also take effect for all federal usage and on all official maps.
The change comes after a debate between lawmakers from Alaska and Ohio. In January 2015, Republican Senate Lisa Murkowski of Alaska introduced legislation that sought to officially call the mountain what Alaskans and indigenous people called it Denali or The High One.
The historic change came during Obama's three-day presidential trip to Alaska. It is the latest bid by the President to fulfill his 2008 campaign promise to improve relations between the federal government and the nation’s Native American tribes.
In 1896, the peak was named as Mount McKinley after a gold prospector exploring the region heard that Ohioan William McKinley, a champion of the gold standard, had won the Republican nomination for president.
In a show of support, the prospector declared the tallest peak of the Alaska range as Mt McKinley and the name stuck. However, McKinley was tragically assassinated in 1901. But he never set foot in Alaska and for centuries, the mountain that rises some 20000 feet above sea level had been known by another name Denali.
In 1975, the state of Alaska officially designated the mountain as Denali, and has since been pressing the federal government to do the same. The peak plays a central role in the creation story of the Koyukon Athabascans, a group that has lived in Alaska for thousands of years.
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