Denali is the highest mountain in North America.

Mount McKinley Renamed Denali Ahead of Obama's Visit

The president is scheduled to visit Anchorage, Alaska, on Aug. 31-Sept. 1. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell signed the order renaming North America's highest mountain on Aug. 28.

North America's highest mountain is no longer named Mount McKinley. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell signed an order Aug. 28 changing its name to Denali, a local Athabascan name for the mountain, which is located in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska. President Obama is scheduled to visit Anchorage, Alaska, on Aug. 31-Sept. 1 in a visit partly intended to call attention to the effects of climate change on the region.

The order states that, on March 11, 1975, Alaska Gov. Jay Hammond, acting on a resolution passed by the Alaska State Legislature, requested that the Secretary of the Interior direct the United States Board on Geographic Names to change the name to Denali. "The mountain was originally named after President William McKinley of Ohio, but President McKinley never visited, nor did he have any significant historical connection to, the mountain or to Alaska. The requested name change is consistent with the Board's substantive policies and is supported by the State of Alaska," it says. "While the Board does have a policy of deferring action when a matter is being considered by Congress, contradictory bills on this issue have been proposed by various members of Congress since the late 1970s. Under 43 U.S.C. §§ 364-364f, the Secretary of the Interior may take action in matters 'wherein the Board does not act within a reasonable time.' The statute also directs the Secretary to 'promulgate in the name of the Board ... decisions with respect to geographic names and principles of geographic nomenclature and orthography.'"