Mount McKinley Renamed Denali Because, Why the Hell Not?
The highest mountain in North America has been renamed after a lackluster luxury automobile for no apparent reason.
NYT (“Mount McKinley Will Again Be Called Denali“):
President Obama announced on Sunday that Mount McKinley was being renamed Denali, restoring an Alaska Native name with deep cultural significance to the tallest mountain in North America.
The move came on the eve of Mr. Obama’s trip to Alaska, where he will spend three days promoting aggressive action to combat climate change, and is part of a series of steps meant to address the concerns of Alaska Native tribes.
The central Alaska mountain has been called Mount McKinley for more than a century. In announcing that Sally Jewell, the secretary of the interior, had used her power to rename it, Mr. Obama was paying tribute to the state’s Native population, which has referred to the site for generations as Denali, meaning “the high one” or “the great one.” The peak, at more than 20,000 feet, plays a central role in the creation story of the Koyukon Athabascans, a group that has lived in Alaska for thousands of years.
Mr. Obama was also putting to rest a yearslong fight over the name of the mountain that has pit Alaska against Ohio, the birthplace of President William McKinley, for whom it was christened in 1896, while he campaigned for president.
Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, introduced legislation in January to rename the peak, but Ohio lawmakers sought to block the move. In June, an Interior Department official said in testimony before Congress that the administration had “no objection” to Ms. Murkowski’s proposed name change.
McKinley never visited Alaska and there was probably no reason for it to be named after him. But the name has stood for 119 years and is the name that everyone on the planet save for a few locals knows the mountain by. Now, it’s been renamed via executive fiat after a generic local name that just means “high one” and is most associated with the rest of us as a sub-brand of GMC trucks—which itself is merely a separate brand under which Chevy vehicles are sold with slightly different badging.
In all seriousness, I’m sure the native population is happy with this name change and it does no real harm to outsiders. But the locals were calling it “Denali” anyway. Now the other 7-plus billion people on the planet have to learn a new name for, well, no apparent reason.