I was born in Alaska 48 years ago. I share my birthday, Aug. 4, with President Obama. I'm an Alaskan native with a little "n," which means I'm white, Alaska-born and Alaska-reared.

On Aug. 28, President Obama gave the nod to Secretary of the Interior Sally JewellSarah (Sally) Margaret JewellOvernight Energy: Zinke extends mining ban near Yellowstone | UN report offers dire climate warning | Trump expected to lift ethanol restrictions Zinke extends mining ban near Yellowstone Blind focus on ‘energy dominance’ may cripple Endangered Species Act MORE to issue a secretarial order changing the name of Mount McKinley, North America's tallest mountain, to Denali.

Jewell's Order No. 3337 offered a background on the effort in Alaska to change the mountain's name, led by then-Gov. Jay Hammond (R) with the state's legislature, in 1975. Hammond was urging then-Secretary of the Interior Rogers Morton to direct the United States Board on Geographic Names to change the name "Mount McKinley" back to "Denali" based on the rationale that President McKinley was born in Ohio, had never visited the Alaskan territory during his presidency and lacked "significant historical connection" to the mountain or state.


In their effort to change the name now, Obama and Jewell rely on federal statutes U.S. Code Title 43, Sections 364-364f and their perceived promulgation authority on "geographic nomenclature and orthography." Jewell prefers the name "Denali" because of its ancestral roots with the Koyukon Athabascan people who traditionally lived in Interior Alaska.

At 20,310 feet, McKinley or Denali anchors the Alaska Range that separates the Interior from the Southcentral region of the state.

Over the years, many Alaskans have supported renaming the mountain. Denali has been endorsed by numerous Alaskan Native organizations, Gov. Bill Walker (I), U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), Rep. Don Young (R), and even the state’s newest U.S. senator, Northeast Ohio native Dan Sullivan (R). Sullivan was born in Fairview Park, which borders the city of Cleveland. His grandfather founded RPM International, Inc., a paint and coatings manufacturer in Medina, Ohio. Sullivans brother Frank is CEO.

The support for an Alaskan-centric name is not unusual or surprising for this monolithic peak visible from both of Alaska's major cities on a clear day. The name reflects an Alaska Native spirit of which I embrace the intent. Celebrating our Native culture is not only important, but an essential. Our indigenous peoples represent the essence of the state's majesty and uniqueness, and the toughness of the people who live here.

But with the name McKinley now wiped off the map of Alaska, I have to ask the proponents of the change who actually care one question: What about McKinley's ultimate sacrifice? He died for our country, in the line of duty, assassinated 114 years ago on Sept. 5, getting shot twice in the abdomen by the Polish-American anarchist Leon Czolgosz.

McKinley gave his life in and for public service.

When I reflect on the likes of a President Lincoln or Kennedy, two other assassinated presidents, I think about the reverence afforded these great men. They are honored for their sacrifice.

McKinley? His most notable namesake was the tallest peak on the North American continent, the huge upthrust rising center of the great state of Alaska. Sadly, this honor has now been wiped away with the flick of a pen by a former CEO-of-REI-named-secretary-of-the -Interior by a president who, until this week, had also had never formally been to Alaska.

Ironically, Jewell has climbed the highest mountain in Antarctica, Vinson Massif, named after late Georgia Rep. Carl Vinson (D). He was a big supporter of Antarctic research, but I wonder how many times Vinson traversed or stepped foot on Antarctica? Will Jewell now propose to change the name of that mountain because Vinson never visited?

On Aug. 31, I interviewed Rep. Bob Gibbs (R) from Ohio on my morning radio show after the news broke of the McKinley name change. Gibbs made an instructive point when it comes to process, noting that "Congress passed a law in 1917 establishing the name Mount McKinley, and I believe it takes another act of Congress if they want to change it." Gibbs spoke of the president's pattern and practice of unilateral decision-making in this and other cases. Obama has independently eroded private property rights and imposed ozone rules that have boosted electric rates for Americans across the Midwest.

Gibbs reminded Alaskan listeners that McKinley served honorably in the Civil War, as a congressman and governor in Ohio, as the commander in chief during the Spanish-American War.

From international trade to civil rights advocacy, McKinley's legacy and efforts were substantive. He seems worthy of having something named after him, and indeed the arguments for leaving his name on Mount McKinley have surfaced in abundance.

One of the most logical centers on the fact that in 1980, the park surrounding the mountain was officially named "Denali National Park and Preserve" in honor of the Koyukon Athabascan connection. So, too, the state highway approaching the mountain from the east was long ago named the "Denali Highway."

My show has generated a wide range of calls protesting the name change. Callers cite the effects on businesses using the name and symbolism for company branding, or wonder about an executive decision infringing on the congressional process. They hint the case against McKinley smells of bias against a white, Republican president.

Alaskans are not alone in objecting. 2016 presidential candidate front-runner Donald Trump weighed in on the matter, tweeting "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!"

Ultimately, the name of North America's largest and most prominent peak is what Americans choose to call it when visiting, climbing or referencing it in their lives. A presidential decision, or secretarial order — albeit one undermining our U.S. Congress — can't take away the recognition of a great and worthy president.

What bothers me is that if it's so easy to pull recognition from under the feet of an assassinated president, what national landmark or treasure is safe? Will a president or other elected official who has gone out of favor in your state or city be the next target? If a president can nonchalantly change a mountain's name on a Friday afternoon, without so much as a public hearing, is power being abused or process neglected?

Could Obama tomorrow declare Washington, D.C. — a federal entity — America's new "Obamagrad"?

As Ohio's Gibbs acknowledged, the Alaskan federal delegation has a right to their views and access to the democratic process. They could work through Congress formally so public opinion and input could be considered.

But this didn't happen. The name was changed by executive fiat. Denali, or Mount Denali, it is now.

No matter; North America's tallest mountain will always be McKinley to this Alaskan. I thank Ohio's fallen son William McKinley, America's 25th president, for his great sacrifice to this nation. He is not forgotten, and the exaltation of naming a magnificent mountain after a remarkable president holds true, no matter an executive order.

Anderson is the managing partner at Optima Public Relations and a radio talk show host.