Victor Knox, the associate director for planning, facilities, and lands at the US National Park Service, told a Senate committee on Wednesday that the administration “does not object” to a bill that aims to name the mount Denali, used by indigenous Alaskans, rather than McKinley, taken after William McKinley, the US 25th president, the Hill reported.
“The National Park Service appreciates the long history and public interest for both the name Mount McKinley and the traditional Athabascan name, Denali,” Knox said. “The Department respects the choice made by this legislation, and does not object.”
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) who has been pushing a bill to change the name of the highest mountain peak in North America, has faced opposition from Ohio, where lawmakers are opposed to the idea removing their 39th governor’s name.
The 20,237-foot (6,168 m) mount, originally called Dinale (the high one) or Denali (the great one) by the Koyukon Athabaskan people, was named McKinley in 1896 by a gold prospector who supported then-presidential candidate William McKinley.
In January, Representative Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) moved to reaffirm the name by introduction of a bill.
“Located in Alaska, Mount McKinley is the highest point in North America and has held the name of our nation’s 25th president for over 100 years,” Gibbs said in a January statement. “This landmark is a testament to his countless years of service to our country.”
According to a statement by Murkowski, the president’s name has already been used enough as a county in New Mexico, 20 schools in Ohio, or the "literally hundreds of streets, libraries and other institutions and businesses" across the United States.
Renaming the mount "seems a fitting gesture and an appropriate way to honor the culture and history of Alaska Natives," Murkowski said. "There is no need for this name confusion and controversy to continue."
The US Congress voted in 1980 to rename the national park surrounding the peak from McKinley to Denali, but using the original name for the mount is yet to be approved.