A devout Christian wants to change the name of Mt. Diablo. Who's in favor of Mt. Reagan?
By Maria L. LaGanga
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.
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.
Chochenko speakers from the Mission San Jose area called the mountain Tuyshtak, meaning "at the day." The Nisenan of the Sacramento Valley called it Sukkú 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).
For more on renaming locations, see Renaming British Columbia, Renaming Dead Indian Lake, and Renaming Savage Island.