President Obama announced Sunday that his administration is renaming Alaska’s Mount McKinley to Denali, the name that nearby natives have long used.

 “Generally believed to be central to the Athabascan creation story, Denali is a site of significant cultural importance to many Alaska Natives,” the White House said in a Sunday fact sheet. “The name ‘Denali’ has been used for many years and is widely used across the state today.”

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the change recognizes that Denali (an Athabascan name used by generations of Alaska Natives that means “the great one”), is sacred to many Alaskans.

“The name Denali has been official for use by the State of Alaska since 1975, but even more importantly, the mountain has been known as Denali for generations,” said Jewell, who is responsible for the Board on Geographic Names, the federal body in charge of place names.

Photo Credit: Patrick J.Endres
“With our own sense of reverence for this place, we are officially renaming the mountain Denali in recognition of the traditions of Alaska Natives and the strong support of the people of Alaska,” she said.

Alaska first formally requested the change when it recognized Denali itself in 1975. Denali means “the great one” in the local Athabaskan language.

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