White House says Mount McKinley to be renamed Denali

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An aerial view of Mt. McKinley (top center) as clouds hover just above on May 17, 2014 in Denali National Park, Alaska. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says he’s changing the name of the tallest mountain in North America from Mount McKinley to Denali.

He’s giving the mountain its traditional Alaska Native name on the eve of a historic presidential visit to Alaska.

Denali is an Athabascan word meaning “the high one.” The name has long been a sore spot for Alaskans, who have informally called the 20,320-foot mountainDenali for years.

The mountain was named after former President William McKinley. There have been several efforts by Alaska politicians change it to Denali. But politicians from McKinley’s home state of Ohio have opposed changing the name.

Obama is citing the Interior Department’s authority to change the name.

Obama departs Monday for a three-day visit to Alaska aimed at focusing attention on climate change.