To Alaskans, the nation’s highest peak is Denali.
To Ohio and other points south, it’s Mount McKinley.
Who should decide between the two names? Well, Congress will, but it should be what Alaskans desire.
Denali, as we prefer to call it, is in Alaska. Alaska’s Athabascans named it Denali, which means “the Great One” or “the High One,” centuries ago. It’s been called Denali much longer than the several decades it’s been known by Mount McKinley.
The McKinley moniker came as a way to honor the 25th president of the United States, William McKinley of Ohio.
A remarkable man, McKinley, a Republican, served in the armed forces before he was elected to Congress and later as Ohio’s governor. As president, he is credited with leading the nation to rapid economic growth and victory in the Spanish-American War. He served one term before an assassin’s bullet ended his life.
But McKinley, while highly regarded, is not the Alaska people’s choice. The people who’ve lived in the mountain’s vicinity prefer Denali, a name that more aptly describes its grandeur at 20,320 feet.
While Congress, which has addressed the name choice previously, hasn’t been amenable to an official name change, precedent exists for it.
Denali National Park in the mountain’s neighborhood used to be called Mount McKinley National Park. When that change occurred, it should have included the mountain that is the premiere sight from within the park.
Ohio has erected monuments to McKinley; he is well remembered.
Alaska should be allowed to choose the names for its monuments, too.
— Ketchikan Daily News,