President Obama is en route to the Arctic, where it seems he’ll be greeted with approval by native Alaskans who have applauded his decision to restore the name of Mount McKinley to Denali, its traditional Athabascan name.
But more than 3,000 miles away in Ohio, residents are less than thrilled with the move that erases a former Republican president’s name from North America’s tallest mountain.
In fact, Ohio lawmakers are ready to fight in the name of former President William McKinley, a son of Ohio.
According to the Associated Press, Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio, said, “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.”
Added House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, “I’m deeply disappointed in this decision.”
And Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, tweeted on Monday:
The president announced the controversial name change on Twitter Sunday, ahead of his historic three-day trip to Alaska to address the threat and impact of climate change.
In renaming the 20,320-ft. mountain, the Obama administration aims to show solidarity with Alaska Natives, who have used the moniker of Denali, or “the high one” in Athabascan, for centuries.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Alaska Gov. Bill Walker praised the president’s decision in a statement, saying, “Alaska’s place names should reflect and respect the rich cultural history of our state, and officially recognizing the name Denali does just that.”
A prospector named the mountain for McKinley after the 25th president was nominated as a candidate in 1896, according to the Los Angeles Times. The state of Alaska renamed the mountain Denali in 1975, but the federal government never followed suit – until now.
Obama is expected to touch down in Anchorage Monday afternoon, making him the first sitting president to visit the Alaskan Arctic. He will meet with Alaska Natives before speaking about climate change at the Arctic summit Monday, and on Tuesday he’ll explore the wilderness while being taped for an episode of the NBC show Running Wild with Bear Grylls.