Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Naming of Mount McKinley (Denali)

The Koyukon Athabaskan people who inhabit the area around the mountain referred to the peak as Dinale or Denali ("the high one" or "the great one"). In the late 1890s, a gold prospector named it "McKinley" as political support for then-president William McKinley. The Alaska Board of Geographic Names changed the name of the mountain to Denali, which is how it is referred to locally. However, a 1975 request by the Alaska state legislature to the United States Board on Geographic Names to do the same was blocked by Ohio congressman Ralph Regula, whose district includes McKinley's hometown. Members of the Ohio congressional delegation continue to protect the McKinley name, blocking attempts by the Alaska congressional delegation to get the Board of Geographic Names to change it to Denali. Thus, "Denali" is correct according to the Alaska state Board, while "McKinley" is correct according to the national Board.


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