ANCHORAGE – While speaking before the general assembly at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention this past weekend, U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan disclosed President Donald Trump in March of this year inquired about his and Senator Lisa Murkowski’s opinions on whether or not to change of Denali back to Mt. McKinley. The mountain was given the Denali name, a Native name, in 2015 by former President Barack Obama.
Taken from the indigenous Athabascan language. Denali is the name Alaska Natives prefer for the mountain.
Trump seemingly bent on reversing everything his predecessor did while in office thought he would throw in the reverting back to Mt. McKinley towards the end of the meeting. While campaigning for the presidency, Trump let it be known that he did not like the name change from Mt. McKinley to Denali.
The two senators were meeting with Trump in March to discuss several administration measures that limited development–in the name of saving the environment–in Alaska.
According to Sullivan, Trump had a final issue on his mind towards the end of their meeting. “He looked at me and said, ‘I heard that the big mountain in Alaska also had — also its name was changed by executive action. Do you want us to reverse that?’” Sullivan said.
“Lisa — Sen. Murkowski — and I jumped over the desk,” Sullivan said. “We said no, no!”
“The Alaska Native people named that mountain over 10,000 years ago,” Sullivan said. “Denali, that was the name.”Alaska Native leaders were pleased when Obama renamed the mountain Denali.
“I am totally against reversing because Denali is the original name,” Mike Williams, Akiak tribal leader, told Native News Online on Tuesday afternoon.