McKinley vs. Denali: Who Decides Names on a Map?
National Geographic’s Geographer explains what the change means and why it’s important.
What’s in a name?
For the tallest mountain in North America, plenty. On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell signed an order officially changing the name of the 20,310-foot (6,190-meter) peak in Alaska from Mount McKinley to Denali.
“With our own sense of reverence for this place, we are officially renaming the mountain Denali in recognition of the traditions of Alaska Natives and the strong support of the people of Alaska,” Jewell said in a statement.
Denali, the peak's traditional name in the local Koyukon Athabascan language, means "the great one."
The change was cheered in Alaska but denounced by members of Congress from Ohio, the birthplace of William McKinley, the 25th president of the United States. A prospector had