February 23, 2010

Renaming Mt. Diablo

Getting the devil off the mountain

A devout Christian wants to change the name of Mt. Diablo. Who's in favor of Mt. Reagan?

By Maria L. LaGanga
Arthur Mijares never saw it coming when he filed the federal paperwork to change the name of Contra Costa County's most famous landmark from Mt. Diablo to Mt. Reagan.

It's not that he's such a big fan of the 40th president of the United States. It's just that he believes, as a devout Christian, that naming a peak of such beauty and importance after the devil--even in Spanish--is "derogatory, pejorative, offensive, obscene, blasphemous and profane."

"I just happen to be an ordinary man that worships God," Mijares said by way of explanation. "He gave me this task in my prayer time. I said, 'Lord, they're going to think I'm a loon.'"

Mijares didn't know the half of it.

In less than a month, more than 80,000 people have joined a Facebook group called "People AGAINST Re-naming Mt. Diablo to Mt. Reagan!!" The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, which will vote on the name change Tuesday, has been flooded with e-mail; the heated response runs nine to one against the idea, said Supervisor Susan Bonilla, whose district includes the beloved mountain.
The Native connection:The twin-peaked Mt. Diablo, which dominates the East Bay landscape, is a sacred site to the Golden State's Native American tribes. The Miwok believed the mountain was originally an island, "from which Coyote and his assistant, Golden Eagle, made the world as we know it," according to American Indian Quarterly's fall 1989 edition.

Its name has long swirled with controversy. As legend has it, in 1805, Spanish soldiers were chasing a band of Bay Miwok who had escaped from a mission and apprehended them in a thicket at the base of a dramatic mountain. Darkness fell, and the Miwok disappeared.

When day broke, the mountain was shrouded in fog, and the soldiers realized that they'd been duped. So they dubbed the area Monte del Diablo, Thicket of the Devil.

"The name was transferred to the peak by non-Spanish explorers who associated 'monte' with a mountain and applied the Italian form Diavolo or Diabolo," according to the Save Mount Diablo website, which is dedicated to preserving open space on and near the mountain. Monte del Diablo first appeared on an 1824 map.
More Native lore about Mount DiabloMount Diablo had profound significance for many Native California groups within its expansive view. The Julpun of the area now known as Brentwood and Byron recognized the mountain as the birthplace of the world. Hundreds of miles away in the Sierra Nevada, some Northern Miwok saw it as the place from which a supranatural being lit a previously dark landscape. Further south, the Central Miwok featured this mountain as part of their most sacred ceremonies. Wintun elder Frances McDaniel said that Wintun spiritual leaders prayed to the creator from the mountain's heights.

Chochenko speakers from the Mission San Jose area called the mountain Tuyshtak, meaning "at the day." The Nisenan of the Sacramento Valley called it Sukk├║ jaman, or as Nisenan elder Dalbert Castro once explained, "the place where dogs came from in trade."

Most of Mount Diablo, including its peak, was within the homeland of the early Volvon, a Bay Miwok-speaking group, and as early as 1811, the mountain was called Cerro Alto de los Bolbones (High Point of the Volvon).
Comment:  I don't have a problem with the Mt. Diablo name. I would have a problem naming the mountain after the president who violated the Constitution and aided Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. If you're going to rename it, how about giving it a Native name?

For more on renaming locations, see Renaming British Columbia, Renaming Dead Indian Lake, and Renaming Savage Island.


Unknown said...

I grew up in Concord and watched fires burn on Mt. Diablo from my back yard. It would be a shame if they renamed it.

dmarks said...

So, where's the smoking gun that Reagan actually aided bin Laden?

Anonymous said...

If your gonna give it a "Native" name. At least don't name it "Squaw Peak"(now Pestewa Peak). And i wholeheartly agree with the notion that re-naming the mountain after the 40th president is atrocious. Just stick to mountain Dialblo.


dmarks said...

The "violates the Constitution" charge is also baseless.

I will probably go with Geno. I don't hate Reagan, but why bother with that name since Reagan had nothing to do with this mountain.

On a related subject, there's the renaming of the Devil's Lake Sioux tribe to the Spirit Lake.

Rob said...

The Bin Laden link provides plenty of information on Reagan's support for Islamic "freedom fighters," DMarks--including Osama bin Laden. Since you don't think Bush needed a "smoking gun" to justify the slaughter of Iraqi civilians, I don't need one either.

Meanwhile, you have nothing to say about Reagan's well-documented aid to Saddam Hussein? Since you think Saddam was guilty of war crimes, you must also think Reagan was guilty of aiding and abetting a war criminal. Right? Or are you a hypocrite when it comes to condemning your fellow conservatives?

As for Reagan's constitutional crimes and misdemeanors, your "baseless" comment is the only thing that's baseless here. Read all about them:




Finally, Reagan held a negative, stereotypical view of Indians. That alone is reason enough not to name a sacred peak after him.