President Barack Obama made an announcement on his tour of Alaska today that will literally change the state’s map. With the authority of the Interior Department, Mt. McKinley, the highest peak in North America, is to be renamed Denali.
Denali is not, however, a new name for Mt. McKinley. Alaskan natives referred to the peak as Denali for centuries before it was renamed by a gold prospector in honor of President William McKinley in 1896, right after he secured the Republican nomination for president. William himself never set foot in the state before his untimely assassination in 1901, just a few months into his second term, reported The New York Times.
Lawmakers in McKinley’s home state, Ohio, have been some of the fiercest opponents of a return to Denali as the mountain’s name. After several attempts at a change by Alaska’s Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, the White House has remained receptive to the idea — which is why many are not that surprised by Obama’s move to rename McKinley. In fact, this action fits into a larger theme for Barack’s trip to Alaska: an aim to be more respectful of wishes of the state’s native population.
Still, social media is also quickly filling with people who are upset with Barack’s decision to swap Mt. McKinley for Denali. Several conservative news outlets have already begun to question the name change, including Fox News host Greta Van Susteren.
Why did Pres Obama change the name of Mt McKinley-why not let the people decide? — Greta Van Susteren (@greta) August 30, 2015
On the other hand, others seem less than outraged by the switch from McKinley to Denali. William is, after all, not a particularly well-remembered president, some said.
I mean, McKinley wasn’t even a great president. Really, there should be no objections. — Heidi N Moore (@moorehn) August 30, 2015
Others joked about how Denali’s new name is likely to become another warring point between supporters of the Obama administration and those who are counting the days until elections are called next year. To change the name of Mt. McKinley will no doubt be seen to some as revisionist and unpatriotic.
Obama to rename Mt. McKinley ‘Denali.’ An intern at Fox News is now checking if Denali is in the Quran — CJ Werleman (@cjwerleman) August 30, 2015
Let’s please not make Mt. McKinley something we get outraged about. — Seth Mandel (@SethAMandel) August 30, 2015
How do you think President Barack Obama changing Mt. McKinley’s name to Denali will stand up to the public after his Alaska trip?
[Image via Mike Powell/Getty Images]