Trump-O-Meter

Change the name of Mount Denali back to Mount McKinley

"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!"


Updates

North America's tallest peak, Denali, is seen from a turnout in Denali State Park, Alaska. (AP/Becky Bohrer)
North America's tallest peak, Denali, is seen from a turnout in Denali State Park, Alaska. (AP/Becky Bohrer)

Trump unable to bring (Mount) McKinley back to life

President Donald Trump's campaign pledge to change the name of Denali back to Mount McKinley appears to be dead.

As we noted in October 2017, Alaska Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan made clear in a March 2017 meeting with Trump that they would oppose the move, along with many of their constituents. They noted that the name of the mountain in Alaska was conferred by the Athabascan people more than 10,000 years ago.

The senators indicated at the time that the name-change initiative appeared to be dead. More than a year later, that still seems to be the case.

"Sen. Murkowski appreciates President Trump for listening to their feedback on this issue. We consider this issue settled," Karina Borger, Murkowski's communications director, told PolitiFact for this update.

The White House did not respond to an inquiry for this article, but we found no evidence that the name change is any closer to fruition than it was.

We rate this a Promise Broken.

Sources:

Email interview with Karina Borger, communications director to Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Dec. 10, 2018

The Alaskan mountain newly renamed Denali inspired a ridiculous social-media graphic that we debunked in September. (AP/Becky Bohrer)
The Alaskan mountain newly renamed Denali inspired a ridiculous social-media graphic that we debunked in September. (AP/Becky Bohrer)

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.

Sources:

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