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Yes to Denali, No to McKinley

President Obama did the right thing by restoring Denali, the Native name of Alaska’s Mount McKinley. For one thing, everybody in Alaska calls it by its original Native name. First time I went to Alaska, I was surprised to discover this. And really, who can blame them?

For another, Alaskans have long wanted restoration of the name Denali, which was cast aside by the federal government in 1917 to honor the 25th president, but an obstreperous Ohio Congressman (who retired in 2009) blocked it. For still another … President McKinley? Really? He never went to Alaska, or had anything to do with Alaska.

So, good on Obama for giving Alaskans their mountain name back. Still, I have to wonder how this would have gone down had the mountain been named after a president or historical figure fondly remembered by many people. What if it had been Mount Lincoln, say? I would still support the name change, but let’s just say Alaskans are fortunate that their mountain was renamed after a figure nobody but Ohioans cares about anymore. I mean, if the thing had been named Mount Caitlyn, there would have been rioting in the streets…

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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