JUNEAU, Alaska – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski has introduced legislation to change the name of North America’s tallest peak from Mount McKinley to Mount Denali.
It is the latest move in a decades-long fight over the name of the mountain, widely referred to as Denali by Alaskans.
For years, members of Ohio’s congressional delegation have filed measures or included language in bills to retain the name Mount McKinley; Ohio is the birthplace of President William McKinley. One such measure is currently pending, introduced by U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan and Betty Sutton.
Murkowski said opponents of a name change can continue to refer to the peak as Mount McKinley. Under her bill, the Alaskan name for the mountain would become the “technically correct” term for what is an Alaska landmark, she said.
“Making Denali – the name that Alaskans use anyway – the official name of America’s tallest mountain means something to Alaska,” Murkowski told a subcommittee earlier this week.
The name Denali is an Athabascan, or Alaska Native tribe, word meaning “the high one.”
A move to change the name took hold in the 1970s, championed by then-Alaska Gov. Jay Hammond. The state Legislature, in 1975, passed a resolution urging the Interior secretary to direct the U.S. Board on Geographic Names to rename Mount McKinley as Mount Denali and Mount McKinley National Park to Denali National Park, according to the history.
The park’s name eventually was changed to Denali National Park and Preserve.