Republicans howl as Obama undoes a cultural snub of Alaska Native tribes



For centuries, the tallest mountain in North America was called Denali, a Native American word for “the high one” or “the great one.”

But the name of the mountain in central Alaska was officially changed in 1917 to Mount McKinley, in honor of William McKinley, a U.S. president assassinated 16 years earlier.

Did McKinley have close ties to the mountain? No, he was a native of Ohio and  had never even set foot in Alaska. Rather, the name-change arose from something that reportedly happened late in the 19th century, as The New York Times relates HERE:

The mountain came to be known as Mount McKinley after a gold prospector who had just emerged from exploring the Alaska Range heard that Mr. McKinley had won the Republican presidential nomination, and declared that the tallest peak should be named in his honor as a show of support.

Mind you,  Alaska wasn’t a state back then,  and its residents couldn’t vote for McKinley or anyone else in U.S. presidential elections.

But neither was there much respect for Native tribal traditions in those days. So there weren’t many mainstream complaints about renaming a mountain for a deceased president.

Now, however, the Obama administration has unilaterally restored Denali as the mountain’s official name, and lots of Republicans, especially in Ohio,  are upset about it, as we see HERE:

Ohio lawmakers reacted angrily Sunday to the White House’s announcement that President Obama would formally rename Alaska’s Mt. McKinley — North America’s highest peak — “Denali” during his trip to The Last Frontier this week. 

“Mount McKinley … has held the name of our nation’s 25th President for over 100 years,” Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio, said in a statement. “This landmark is a testament to his countless years of service to our country.” Gibbs also described Obama’s action as “constitutional overreach,” saying that an act of Congress was required to rename the mountain, because a law formally naming it after Ohio’s William McKinley was passed in 1917.

“This political stunt is insulting to all Ohioans, and I will be working with the House Committee on Natural Resources to determine what can be done to prevent this action,” Gibbs said.








  1. Steverino

    Considering global warming the high point might become the low point in the near future. Leave it to the Republicans to make another ridiculous challenge while ignoring the real issues to mankind.

  2. I don’t have an issue with the name change, Denali is what the mountain should be called. However, Rep. Gibbs provides a valid point. Can the Executive branch just rename anything it wants without Congressional approval?

    For example, Congress tends to pass bills naming post offices after local citizens who made a positive impact to the community. Can the President just override the names if he/she chooses?

    I’m guessing that technically Congress could probably veto President Obama’s new mountain name, but such a measure wouldn’t be popular with most people as it would be considered petty and nitpicking. Then again, when has Congress cared about popular opinion?

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