North America’s tallest mountain — its peak soaring more than 20,000 feet into the sky above Alaska — has just been renamed by order of President Barack Obama. Mount McKinley is no more — no longer does the mountain bear the name of the nation’s 25th president, a Republican from Ohio. Siding with lawmakers in the 49th state as well as Alaska’s indigenous peoples, the president has officially restored “Denali” as the name of the majestic mountain in all federal records.
Denali means “the great one” in the Athabaskan languages of the Alaska Natives living around the mountain.
The move comes as Obama starts a three-day presidential trip to the state where voters haven’t been too kind to Democrats in recent years. The focus of Obama’s trek to the north is his climate-change agenda, which he hopes will be boosted by his ending a 40-year battle over the name. Fox News reports that the state of Alaska has tried for decades to get the name change officially enacted.
But those efforts and legislation in Congress have been stymied by members of Ohio’s congressional delegation. Even when Mount McKinley National Park was renamed Denali National Park in 1980, the federal government retained Mount McKinley as the name of the actual peak….
Members of the congressional delegation from Ohio — President William McKinley’s home state — have vigorously protested the president’s order to change the mountain’s name. They claim that Obama has once again overstepped his constitutional authority, since it was an act of Congress that, nearly 100 years ago, named the mountain for the president from The Buckeye State.
Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio, released a statement slamming the presidential name change, according to Fox News:
“This political stunt is insulting to all Ohioans, and I will be working with the House Committee on Natural Resources to determine what can be done to prevent this action,” Gibbs said.
The Ohio delegation’s disappointment at the decision cut across party lines.
“We must retain this national landmark’s name in order to honor the legacy of this great American president and patriot,” Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, whose district includes McKinley’s hometown of Niles, in eastern Ohio.
Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio also lit into Obama for his unilateral move to delete the name Mount McKinley from federal records. Even House Speaker John Boehner said he is “deeply disappointed in this decision,” reports Fox News.
In the state of Alaska itself — where Obama is slated to tour a receding glacier and meet people in remote communities supposedly threatened by rising ocean levels — GOP lawmakers say they’re appreciative of the president’s putting an end to the long-running conflict over the mountain’s official name.
Reuters reports: “The move elicited praise from Alaska Governor Bill Walker, a Republican turned independent, and Republican elected officials, who more typically are critical of an administration they see as hostile to the oil and gas interests of their state.”
For Obama critics who remain deeply cynical about the president’s every move, the changing of the tallest North American mountain’s name to a word that means “the great one” just might be seen as a self-serving testament to Barack Obama’s opinion of himself.
This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth