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Feds Shrug at Glacial Fight Over Mount McKinley

National Park Service 'does not object' to name change
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 11, 2015 12:30 PM CDT
Feds Shrug at Glacial Fight Over Mount McKinley
This undated file photo shows Mount McKinley as seen from Talkeetna, Alaska.   (AP Photo/Al Grillo, File)

(Newser) – Score a halfhearted point for Alaska in the great Alaska-Ohio throwdown over what to call the nation's highest mountain, with the National Park Service shrugging and throwing a "sure, whatever" on the fire yesterday, reports NBC News. "The National Park Service appreciates the long history and public interest for both the name Mount McKinley and the traditional Athabascan name, Denali," NPS' associate director told a Senate panel considering a name change sought by Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski. "The Department respects the choice made by this legislation, and does not object" to changing it. At issue is the desire of Alaska, where the mountain is actually located, to revert to Mount Denali, or "the high one," as the Athabascan people called it.

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Enter the Buckeye State, more than 3,000 miles away and birthplace to the nation's 25th president, William McKinley, for whom a random gold prospector passing by renamed the mountain in 1896. Ohio Rep. Bob Gibbs preceded Murkowski's bill with one of his own proclaiming the mountain "shall continue to be named and referred to for all purposes as Mount McKinley." Be that as it may, "at home in Alaska, we just call it Denali because it's part of our history," says Murkowski. "History doesn't bode well for the effort," notes the Alaska Dispatch News, which reports that Alaska has been trying—and failing—since 1975 to get the change made. (Whatever you want to call it, the nation's tallest peak recently got a little shorter.)

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