Washington, Aug 31: Meeting the long pending demand of native Americans in Alaska, US President Barack Obama has decided to rename the highest mountain in North America as "Denali" instead of its existing name of "Mt McKinley".
"This designation recognises the sacred status of Denali to generations of Alaska Natives," the White House said on eve of Obama's travel to Alaska where he would formally announce his decision in this regard. In 1896, a prospector emerged from exploring the mountains of central Alaska and received news that William McKinley had been nominated as a candidate for President of the United States.
In a show of support, the prospector declared the tallest peak of the Alaska Range as "Mt McKinley" and the name stuck. McKinley became the 25th President of the United States, and was tragically assassinated just six months into his second term.
"But he never set foot in Alaskaand for centuries, the mountain that rises some 20,000 feet above sea level, the tallest on the North American continent, had been known by another nameDenali," the White House said.
"Generally believed to be central to the Athabascan creation story, Denali is a site of significant cultural importance to many Alaska Natives. The name 'Denali' has been used for many years and is widely used across the state today," the White House said in defence of its decision.
"Today, finalising a process initiated by the State of Alaska in 1975, President Obama is announcing that the Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell used her authority to rename the mountain as 'Denali'," the White House said. "This name change recognises the sacred status of Denali to many Alaska Natives," Jewell said. "The name Denali has been official for use by the State of Alaska since 1975, but even more importantly, the mountain has been known as Denali for generations," she added.