Legislators move to have Mount McKinley renamed Denali

February 10, 2009 

FAIRBANKS -- Once again, a push is under way to change the name of Mount McKinley to Denali.

Fairbanks Rep. Scott Kawasaki has filed a House resolution, that, if approved, would urge Congress to make the change. The 20,322-foot mountain was named for President William McKinley of Ohio, who never even visited Alaska.

Kawasaki says the people of Alaska should have the right to name their own monuments: "Now is our opportunity to reassert our authority over our mountain ... the name Denali means something, culturally, to most Alaskans."

Native Alaskans call the mountain Denali, which means The High One in Athabascan.

Kawasaki's bill includes a notation that restoring the original name may help "to rectify past injustices toward Alaska Native peoples."

Since 1975, Ohio Rep. Ralph Regula has blocked legislation in Congress to rename the mountain. Regula's district includes McKinley's hometown. Regula retired this year.

Regula filed legislation yearly protecting the mountain's name. With a bill pending, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names was not allowed to make a name change.

Two other Ohio representatives have pledged to continue the name-change battle.

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