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Could America’s Tallest Peak Soon Be Changing Its Name?

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A battle over the name of America’s tallest mountain could soon result in a name change for what is now known as Mount McKinley.

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski is behind a bill that would officially change the name of Alaska’s Mount McKinley to Mount Denali, a change that backers of the bill say would pay tribute to the indigenous Athabascan tribe, the oldest known group of inhabitants of interior Alaska. Denali roughly translates to “the great one” or “the high one” in Koyukon Athabascan.

The battle over the name, essentially, comes down to a battle between the states of Alaska and Ohio. McKinley hailed from Canton, Ohio, so Ohio politicians have long blocked Alaska-backed proposals to change the name of North America’s tallest peak.

Sitting 20,320 feet above sea level, the mountain was named after the 25th president of the United States following his 1901 assassination, but Alaskans believe “Denali absolutely belongs to Alaska and its citizens — and with all due respect to my colleagues and the good people of Ohio, where President McKinley was born and where I have many friends and family, the mountain is not theirs to name,” said Alaska’s other Senator, Dan Sullivan, who co-sponsored the bill with Murkowski.

The Barack Obama administration and the National Park Service is staying neutral on the debate, with both testifying on Wednesday, via the Alaska Dispatch News, that they appreciate the long history and public interest for both the name Mount McKinley and the traditional Athabascan name Denali.”

The weather at Mount McKinley (or Denali), you might ask? Well, a mid-June blizzard is on tap, with feet of snow expected the rest of the week, according to the National Weather Service. The notoriously windy and year-round snow-capped mountain also holds North America’s coldest wind chill on record at an astonishing -118.1° Fahrenheit.

Meteorologist Chris Bianchi – Photo:, Brigachtal

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