A picture of Senator Lisa Murkowski
Lisa M.
Republican AK

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  • Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

    by Senator Lisa Murkowski

    Posted on 2015-01-29

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    MURKOWSKI (for herself and Mr. Sullivan): S. 319. A bill to designate a mountain in the State of Alaska as Mount Denali; to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

    Ms. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, I rise today to reintroduce legislation which has been proposed in the past by the Alaska Congressional Delegation to officially restore the traditional name of the nation's highest peak, currently Mount McKinley, to its traditional Interior Alaska Athabascan name, Denali.' I am joined in sponsoring this bill by my colleague from Alaska, Senator Dan Sullivan.

    Since passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in 1980 the Alaska Delegation has been trying to change the name of the tallest mountain in North America back to its Alaska name. In 1980 Congress did change the name of the national park and preserve where the mountain is located to Denali National Park and Preserve, from its earlier name of Mt. McKinley National Park. But unfortunately the name of the peak itself continues to refer to a President who never set foot in Alaska.

    While I have great respect for President William McKinley and great respect for the wonderful State of Ohio where he was born, the peak at 20,230 feet has always been called by Alaska's first Athabascan residents as Denali, meaning ``the high one.'' It is simply fitting in this day and age of greater awareness of Native history that the mountain return to a name that honors its Native ancestry.

    Already there are a number of towns and institutions named in honor of the 25th President. He has a monument for him at his birthplace in Niles, OH, and another on McKinley Monument Drive where the McKinley National Monument is located, not far from the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH. There is McKinley Heights in Ohio. There are more than 20 schools in Ohio named for him. There is a county in New Mexico named after him. There are literally hundreds of streets, libraries and other institutions and businesses named for him nationwide. There is no danger than Americans will not remember and honor the assassinated President.

    But no official in the territory of Alaska actually named the nation's tallest mountain after the former President. That was done by a prospector William Dickey, who took it upon himself to name the peak in 1896. The Alaska State Place Names Board in 1975 took official state action to rename the peak, restoring its traditional name of Denali. I clearly believe that there is every reason for this Congress to follow Alaskans' desires and the desires of Native Americans and restore the name to the English translation of what it has been called for millennia, on Federal maps and documents.

    I hope that this Congress will finally agree to this name change.

    ______ By Ms. WARREN (for herself, Mr. Cardin, Mr. Brown, and Ms. Baldwin): S. 320. A bill to authorize the collection of supplemental payments to increase congressional investments in medical research, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

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