Ohio Republicans Blow A Gasket After Obama Renames Mt. McKinley ‘Denali’

On Sunday, the Obama administration announced that it was renaming America’s highest mountain “Denali”, an Athabaskan language term of reverence for the majestic peak, which translates to “great one” in English. By directing his Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, to restore the name “Denali” to the mountain, the Obama administration struck a symbolic blow at decades of cultural imperialism. The name change was signed by Jewell on Friday, but the announcement was not made public until Sunday.

The peak has been officially known as Mt. McKinley since 1917, although a gold prospector first gave it that title in 1896, because then presidential candidate William McKinley (R) supported the gold standard. McKinley was U.S. President from 1897 until 1901, when he was assassinated by Leon Czolgosz.

Alaska natives have long sought to restore the name Denali to the peak, and Alaska politicians in both parties have pushed for the name change for decades. Moderate Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski sponsored legislation to enact the name change in every session of Congress since she was first elected, but until Sunday her efforts had been in vain. On Sunday, she thanked the president for acting, stating:

For centuries, Alaskans have known this majestic mountain as the ‘Great One.’ Today we are honored to be able to officially recognize the mountain as Denali. I’d like to thank the President for working with us to achieve this significant change to show honor, respect, and gratitude to the Athabaskan people of Alaska.

However, outside of Alaska, many Republicans were not at all pleased with the president’s decision. Karl Rove, who incidentally is writing a book about McKinley, complained:

The 25th president gets overlooked too much already. Would hope the president would find another appropriate way to honor McKinley.

However, it was Republicans from McKinley’s state of Ohio who really blew a gasket over the renaming of the mountain. Ohio Rep. Bob Gibbs went ballistic issuing a statement blasting the decision:

Congress passed the law in 1917 establishing the name of Mount McKinley, and another act of Congress is required to make any future name changes. President McKinley is a well respected American hero who deserves to be honored and I hope my colleagues will join with me in stopping this constitutional overreach. President Obama has decided to ignore an Act of Congress in unilaterally renaming Mount McKinley in order to promote his job-killing war on energy. This political stunt is insulting to all Ohioans.

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, also an Ohio Republican, griped:

There is a reason President McKinley’s name has served atop the highest peak in North America for more than 100 years, and that is because it is a testament to his great legacy. McKinley served our country with distinction during the Civil War as a member of the Army. He made a difference for his constituents and his state as a member of the House of Representatives and as Governor of the great state of Ohio. And he led this nation to prosperity and victory in the Spanish-American War as the 25th President of the United States. I’m deeply disappointed in this decision.

Ohio Governor and GOP presidential hopeful John Kasich fumed on Twitter that the president has once again overstepped his bounds. Ohio GOP Senator Rob Portman moaned that Obama had abused his authority by not getting congressional approval for the name change.

Ohio Republicans are fervently resisting the name change, even though President McKinley never set foot in Alaska, nor did he have any particular connection to the area. While Ohio GOP politicians grouse that the name change is insulting, the true insult is their insistence that reverence for President McKinley should take precedence over the wishes of the native peoples that live in the shadows of the great mountain.

The insult is compounded by the fact that William McKinley presided over the massacre of indigenous peoples during a period of American expansion, justified under calls for “manifest destiny.” McKinley’s greatest atrocities were not conducted against Native Americans, but rather against Filipinos, 200,000 of which were slaughtered by U.S. forces while McKinley was President. Nevertheless, the cruel irony is not lost on the native people of Alaska. Ohio Republicans would rather honor an imperialist president who crushed indigenous people in the Pacific than respect the folks who live near the slopes of Denali.

President Obama was right to restore the name Denali, to America’s most majestic peak. While renaming the over 20,000 foot high mountain is at best, a symbolic gesture, it is an important one that recognizes the dignity of the Athabaskan people of Alaska.

As for President McKinley, perhaps Ohio Republicans can band together to name a hill in Ohio after him. However, they don’t necessarily need to, because there is still a modest sized Mount McKinley in Los Angeles County, California that rises a mere 4926 feet above sea level. While it is not nearly as impressive as Denali, it is a much more appropriate peak for bearing the name of a man of William McKinley’s stature and historical significance.

46 Replies to “Ohio Republicans Blow A Gasket After Obama Renames Mt. McKinley ‘Denali’”

  1. Rename the highest mountain in Ohio after McKinley… Ya’ know the one that Gibbs’ and Boehner’s egos sit upon.

  2. Constitutional Overreach!?!? seriously! last I checked the Secretary of Interior reports directly to the President of the United States and not to Congress. Unless it is on matters of creating a National Park (this is usually a mere formality) Other than that, Congress doesn’t really have a say in how the Dept of the Interior is run. Unless I am mistaken in my recollections.

  3. Maybe the idiots of Ohio can rename this in honor of a war criminal
    Campbell Hill is, at 1,550 feet (472 m), the highest point in elevation in the U.S. state of Ohio. Campbell Hill is located within the city of Bellefontaine, two miles (3.2 km) northeast of downtown.

    Because size doesn’t matter

  4. President Obama is not “renaming” the mount. He’s restoring it’s original name that up until 70 years ago, has always been called Denali by the Native Americans…for 20,000 years.

    On Sunday, President Obama announced that he would restore the name of the nation’s tallest mountain, currently called Mount McKinley, to Denali. The move, which comes in advance of the President’s trip to Alaska, was described as a show of respect to Native Americans and the original name they gave to the peak.

    The name of the mountain was officially changed from Denali to Mount McKinley in 1917, at the suggestion of a gold prospector. William McKinley, who never visited Alaska, was America’s 25th president. Naming the mountain after McKinley, seemingly at random, was viewed by many as an expression of cultural imperalism.

    President Obama did the correct thing.

  5. Keith, thanks for covering this….I would add, the mountain was named for McKinley a year before he took office as a political favor. Mr. Dickey a gold miner from Seattle, who promoted McKinley, offered it as a propaganda tool for the presidential campaign.

    we Alaskans have been fighting for this name change for 35 years. If former Gov. Jay Hammond were alive he would be rejoicing.

  6. While he’s at it, how about renaming the La Brea Tar Pits?
    The Boehner-McConnell Tea Garden fits much better.

  7. I stand corrected, 1,550 feet is not tall enough to be called a mountain. Therefore, Ohio could rename its tallest natural land formation Hill Billy McKinley.

  8. McKinley really wasn’t even worth remembering outside of the fact that he got assassinated by people that those on the right today would of been like then: Anarchists.

    Why complain over something that really didn’t earn that name?

  9. you sir, have a terrible case of
    Denali denial.

    grow up, travel, and don’t be so ignorant about other people and their cultures.

  10. snark or not,
    what I heard was ” Obama’s a dictator and he will name anything he wants after some Kenyan memory from his father’s land….exactly what the cons are saying over at Brietbart, the Hill and elsewhere.

    This is not about Obama, this is about Alaska, and what we have wanted for 35 years.

  11. It was meant as a slap at the teabagger type that always claim that President Obama is the ‘other’ in everything he does. I did not mean to insult Alaskans and their respect for the significance of the mountain. Please accept my apologies for the offense I caused.

  12. I worked at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio for many years. If I remember correctly, the highest point in Ohio is atop a building that sits on stilts in Area B of W-PAFB. Petition the base commander to change the name of the building on stilts to the McKinley Building. CRS prevents me from remembering what the name of the building was in 1993 when I retired.

  13. Of COURSE our lily-white Republicant’s don’t give a flying rat’s arse about the Native Americans that live there. When have they ever cared about anyone that’s not white, Christian, and Republican?

  14. Oh no she didint. Oh no she didint. Oh no she didint. Oops sorry was channeling the bitch from wasilly for a minute there. You know that’s what she’s going to say

  15. The Mountain should never have lost its original name. There is no negative impact in restoring it, and it’s a nice gesture/gift to Alaskan’s. It’s restoration has been requested for years by Alaskan’s. So no surprise the Republicans blame the African American President again, for doing the right thing.

  16. Sheesh. I’ve been calling it Denali for decades now. Thought that name change happened years ago. But as a fellow poster informed me: Alaska changed the name in the 1970s; the rest of the U.S. is just now finally catching up. As far as the Ohio folks are concerned: Suck it up. Use landmarks in your own state to commemorate McKinley if he’s such a hero to you.

  17. Jeez Louise, that sarcasm was so obvious. Get new batteries for your snark detection meter.

  18. I love it when repugs pee their panties over every, single thing he does. Such losers they are. This action made republicans in Alaska very happy. So there are a few who do not have to change their diapers.

  19. A great comment.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Gov. Jay Hammond is already dancing atop Mount Denali, in the company of angels and in the company of those who in the past treasured this beautiful mountain.

    Thanks Keith.

  20. This fact is worth repeating:
    —-the mountain was named for McKinley a year before he took office as a political favor. Mr. Dickey a gold miner from Seattle, who promoted McKinley, offered it as a propaganda tool for the presidential campaign.——
    Plus, McKinley has NO connection to Alaska. None! Never set foot in the place, much less seen the mountain, or touched the earth on it.

    It’s more fitting to keep the name that the original inhabitants of that land named it. “Denali”, meaning great one. (Reference to the creator?) NOT some person who has not even earned the right to have a mountain named after him. The “Indians” have more respect for nature than, I suppose, Mr. McKinley.
    Right is right. Ignore the boo-hoo’s coming from those politicians.

  21. Another fact:

    —–“President Obama is not “renaming” the mount. He’s restoring it’s original name that up until 70 years ago, has always been called Denali by the Native Americans…for 20,000 years.”—–

    Ohio Republicans, and Republicans in general who are having hissy-fits over this, because Obama opened the way for the restoration of it’s original name— Crying and stomping your feet is not going to change it back to Mt. McKinley. Get used to it. You don’t have to call it Denali you know…..but it’s in the books. the name Denali is the official name. Get it? Get over it. It’s a DONE

  22. If the people and politicians of Ohio want something named after president mckinley, let them name something in Ohio.

  23. A’ho ICH! Appreciate your comment & really appreciate President Obama reaching out to Native Americans! All tribes have been treated so unfairly ever since the invasion of “Turtle Island” ( North America )! This nation needs to respect & correct historical facts. Blessings to President Obama & all who support a better treatment towards the indigenous people of North America! WADO! #CherokeeStrong all tribes #OneTribe #NativeAmericans

  24. A’ho CyberMindGrrl THANK YOU for your straight arrow words! So very true! Blessings to you! WADO! #CherokeeStrong all tribes #OneTribe #NativeAmericans

  25. A’ho dw! Thanks for pointing out facts about treaties & stealing our lands! Blessings! WADO! #CherokeeStrong all tribes #OneTribe #NativeAmericans

  26. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. I keep seeing these “Renamed” headlines and I keep thinking: NO, he didn’t “rename” it, he restored its rightful name.

  27. Too, Buckeyes have plenty of Indian mounds they can call Mt. McKinley or Mound McKinley

    Given Congress’s lack of sense about much of anything, complaining about executive overstepping legislative authority is a bit much.

  28. DAMN IT!!…I KNEW I should have invested in that start up company that manufactures Right Hand brain gaskets back in 08. And they are cheap to produce as they are made of hydraulically compressed bullshit stamped out by a clown shaped cookie cutter. I could be a billionaire by now..

  29. Relax, Rethugs I’m sure there’s a
    landfill somewhere in Ohio that can be
    named for say, Dick Cheney. How ’bout it?

  30. Ohio needs to blow a gasket about what their Gov. is doing to the education system
    Ohio: Will Chartergate Be Investigated?

    Three major newspapers in Ohio have seconded the State Board of Education’s call for an investigation of grade-rigging of charter school data by state officials. They demand that the state open its records but the state has been stonewalling their requests.
    Read More

  31. For what it’s worth…
    I’ve seen a lot o’ pix of Mt.Denali, {and I know a photo is only a pale shadow o’ the mountains true glory}…”DENALI” fits…and I can’t stand when people wanna rename what they have NO claim on as a political favor…
    …the Ohioans can attempt aeronautical intercourse with a revolving pastry, and THEN they can enjoy an auto-erotic interlude…

  32. On behalf of insensitive white folks, accept my apology for all the ways we have invaded your land, introduced bad habits to your culture and decimated some of your people. We owe you. But, I’m sorry to say, you will probably never be repaid. Maybe acts such as the president recognizing the gifts and rights of the Native Americans will be some small solace. Thank you for all you have given — especially your art!

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