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Lawmakers react to Barack Obama renaming Mt. McKinley to Denali

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    A woman gazes at Mount McKinley in Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska on Aug. 3. On Sunday, the White House said President Barack Obama will change the name of North America’s highest peak to Denali, restoring a native Alaskan name with deep cultural significance. (ANDY NEWMAN / HOLLAND AMERICA LINE VIA AP)

    AP

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    John Kasich

    AP

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Staff and wire reports

The renaming of Mount McKinley was criticized Monday by Republicans representing Medina County and the state.

The White House announced Sunday the name of North America’s tallest peak would be renamed Denali, the traditional name used by native Alaskans.

U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, of Wadsworth, slammed President Barack Obama for snubbing Ohio-born William McKinley, the nation’s 25th president.

“I am greatly disappointed to see Mount McKinley — officially named in 1917 by an act of Congress to honor the legacy of a great Ohioan and his accomplishments as our country’s president — renamed by administrative fiat,” Renacci said in a statement Monday.

He said Obama is circumventing the will of Congress.

“The naming of our nation’s highest peak — which is on federal land — falls under the jurisdiction of the House Natural Resources Committee, not the executive branch,” Renacci said. “When the legislative process is ignored, the basis and values our country was founded on become diminished.”

Renacci represents the eastern portion of Medina County, part of the 16th Congressional District.

U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs, of Lakeville, echoed Renacci’s opposition.

“President Obama has decided to ignore an Act of Congress in unilaterally renaming Mount McKinley in order to promote his job-killing war on energy,” Gibbs said in a statement. “This political stunt is insulting to all Ohioans, and I will be working with the House Committee on Natural

Resources to determine what can be done to prevent this action.”

Gibb’s 7th Congressional District includes portions of Medina County.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, of Cincinnati, protested the decision in a series of tweets, saying the name was a way to recall the “rich legacy” of William McKinley, who was assassinated by an anarchist in 1901.

Gov. John Kasich, who’s running for the Republican presidential nomination, said in a tweet that Obama “once again oversteps his bounds.”

During a campaign stop Monday in Michigan, Kasich said the name should remain McKinley.

He said people in Ohio feel the name is appropriate and there is no reason to change it.

The move to change the name to Denali was applauded by leaders in Alaska who have been asking for the change, and the announcement was made as Obama began a three-day visit to the state to discuss climate change and arctic drilling.

The name Denali means “the high one” in Athabascan, a native language used in parts of Alaska, Canada and some parts of the continental United States. Natives have called the mountain Denali for centuries.

The White House said the mountain was given the nickname McKinley in 1896 by a prospector exploring mountains in central Alaska. The prospector named it after hearing the news William McKinley had been nominated as the Republican Party’s presidential candidate for 1896.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, of Cleveland, said in a statement: “This announcement is about honoring the Athabascan people who call Alaska their home and its highest mountain, ‘Denali,’” Brown said in a statement. “President McKinley is a great Ohioan and streets and schools throughout the Midwest bear testimony to his legacy. I will continue to work with the Administration to ensure that future generations of Americans are aware of McKinley’s legacy.”



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