Compromise Proposed in Denali/McKinley Fight

Author Ron Lizzi recommends naming summit of Alaska's Denali after President McKinley




Denali sign with name changes


Photo illustration by Ron Lizzi showing proposed name changes on sign at Eielson Visitor Center in Denali National Park

(Click the image for a larger version)



Author Ron Lizzi has proposed a compromise in the fight over the name of America's tallest mountain.


At the direction of President Barack Obama, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell recently changed the name of Alaska's Mount McKinley to Denali, the name used by Alaska natives.


In 1896, a prospector named the mountain for William McKinley, former governor of Ohio, who later became the 25th President of the United States and was assassinated in his second term.


For decades, Alaskans have sought to restore the name Denali, but those efforts have been blocked in Congress by legislators from Ohio.


While cheered by Alaskans, the action by the Obama administration caused uproar among those who support honoring McKinley. Others objected to the president's bypassing Congress. Some presidential candidates, including Ohio Governor John Kasich, have vowed to reverse the change if they become president.


Now, Ron Lizzi, author of the acclaimed nature book Go Outside and Come Back Better, is offering a compromise. The mountain has two summits: South Peak, at an elevation of 20,310 feet, is the highest, while nearby North Peak rises to 19,470 feet. Lizzi proposes changing South Peak to McKinley Peak, leaving the entire mountain as Denali. He points out that other geological features of the mountain have been named, so there is precedent.


"This way, the mountain's original Alaskan name is restored, and McKinley still gets the honor of having his name on the nation's highest peak," said Lizzi. "It's disappointing that the administration didn't seek a compromise before acting unilaterally, but I hope that everyone will accept this simple change, so that we can finally end the dispute without dishonoring anyone."


Lizzi has provided his proposal to the Obama administration, Governor Kasich, and members of the Ohio and Alaska congressional delegations.


The proposal has drawn interest from various news media: