By Keli James, PR communications coordinator

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, with President Obama’s approval, signed a “secretarial order” to officially change the name of the tallest mountain in North America from McKinley to Denali.

Although known to Alaskans by its Koyukon Athabascan name Denali, it didn’t get an official name change when Denali National Park and Preserve was created in 1980. The state changed the name of the park’s tallest mountain to Denali at that time, but the federal government did not.

“I think for people like myself that have known the mountain as Denali for years and certainly for Alaskans, it’s something that’s been a long time coming,” Jewell told the Alaska Dispatch News.

Members of Alaska’s congressional delegation expressed their approval.

“I’d like to thank the president for working with us to achieve this significant change to show honor, respect, and gratitude to the Athabascan people of Alaska,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said in a video statement recorded on the Ruth Glacier below the mountain.

A gold prospector named the mountain for McKinley, who never visited Alaska, in 1896.

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