Trump backed off promise to change Denali’s name, says Alaska senator
President Donald Trump said on the campaign trail that he would reverse an order from President Barack Obama renaming North America's tallest mountain from Mount McKinley to Denali.
But Alaska's Republican senators aren't interested. And they've told Trump as much.
During a speech at the 2017 Alaska Federation of Natives' annual conference in Anchorage, Sen. Dan Sullivan relayed a conversation in which he and Sen. Lisa Murkowski told Trump they did not want to change the name.
"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, according to the Alaska Dispatch News. The two senators responded no.
Murkowski's office confirmed some of the details of the meeting, which took place in March.
"It was part of a larger conversation where they were discussing harmful impacts to Alaska from the Obama administration, and while on the topic, Trump asked if reversing the name was something our state and the senators would like to see happen," said Hannah Ray, press secretary for Murkowski. "They told him no, and explained why — that the name Denali was given by the Athabascan people more than 10,000 years ago."
Trump agreed to not change the name, according to Sullivan.
"So he's like, 'all right, we won't do that,' " Sullivan said in the speech.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
Before Obama's move, Murkowski had tried to change the mountain's name to Denali. She introduced legislation in January 2015 that Ohio lawmakers opposed, because President William McKinley was from Ohio. Months later, then-Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell ordered the name change, which Obama announced on Aug. 30, 2015.
The next day, Trump tweeted: "President Obama wants to change the name of Mt. McKinley to Denali after more than 100 years. Great insult to Ohio. I will change back!"
Without the support of Alaskan leadership, Trump appears to have backed off this pledge. We rate this promise Stalled.
Donald Trump, Tweet, Aug. 31, 2015
The New York Times, "Mount McKinley Will Again Be Called Denali," Aug. 30, 2017
The Alaska Dispatch News, "Trump offered to change Denali back to Mount McKinley. 'We said no!'" Oct. 24, 2017
U.S. Secretary of the Interior, order no. 3337, Aug. 28, 2015
Email interview, Hannah Ray, press secretary for Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Oct. 26, 2017