With so many pressing issues facing the nation it's hard to believe that some members of Congress are battling over the name of Mount McKinley in Juneau, Alaska.
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski introduced legislation to change Mount McKinley, North America's tallest peak, to Mount Denali. Ohio's congressional delegation led by U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, McKinley's birth town, are blocking the bill. Ohio's delegation has blocked similar attempts for the past 40-plus years.
In 1896, gold prospector William Dickey had his '''Discovery' account'' published in the New York Sun. A supporter of the president at the time, Dickey referred to the natural landmark as Mount McKinley. The name stuck.
Before the U.S. purchased Alaska from Russian, the Russians called it Bulshaia Gora, or Great Mountain. The Koyukon Athabaskan people, who are native to the area, call it Denali, which translates into ''the high one'' or ''the great one.''
It's not unusual for national landmarks, natural or otherwise, to bear the name of somebody whose connection, geographic or otherwise, is tenuous.
The Harding Icefield in the Kenai Mountains of Alaska, for example, is named for U.S. President Warren G. Harding because the commander-in-chief promised to visit there in 1922.
In Georgia, Fort Federica is named for Federick, Prince of Wales.
Russell Cave National Park in Alabama is named for Col. Thomas Russell of North Carolina because he happened to own the property when it was surveyed.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the badlands of North Dakota bears the president's name because he purchased a ranch there and occasionally visited to hunt.
Nor is it unusual for McKinley's name to be bestowed upon various landmarks. This may be because of his tragic assassination, which resulted in nearly a million dollars being pledged for the construction of McKinley memorials in the year after his death. There are McKinley statues in more than a dozen states and many more schools and streets across America that bear his name.
The United States Board of Geographic Names is a federal agency established to maintain uniform usage of government names. According to its web site, ''Inconsistencies and contradictions among many names, spellings and applications became a serious problem to surveyors, map makers and scientists who require uniform, non-conflicting, geographic nomenclature.
Likewise, it should be equally important to avoid name changes as much as possible. The Ohio delegation should continue to block this proposal and the geographic names board should continue to maintain consistency.