10.17.2005

Viva Diablo!

Mt. Diablo Keeps Name Despite Religious Objection

from The Associated Press

WALNUT CREEK, California - Federal officials have rejected a request to change the name of Mount Diablo after receiving complaints that it was offensive to some religions.

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names voted unanimously this week to keep Mount Diablo's name the same, saying it "saw no compelling reason to change the name," said spokeswoman Jennifer Runyan.

The Portland, Ore.-based agency was responding to a complaint by Art Mijares, an Oakley man who wanted the name changed to reflect American Indian languages.

He withdrew his first suggestion, Mount Kawukum, after learning the moniker was a gimmick promoted by an early 20th century real estate developer.

He then suggested Mount Yahweh, claiming the word meant not only "God" in Hebrew but also "The Creator" in the tribal language of the Miwok tribe. But a tribe spokeswoman said the word is not listed in the Miwok dictionary.

The agency also denied the request of a Marin County couple seeking to change the peak's name to Mount Ohlone and Mount Miwok after two local indigenous tribes.

Mijares said he was not surprised by the ruling because he had encountered stiff state and local opposition.

"I understand that it is a long-standing name and I understand there are interest groups that aren't open to change," he said.

The name Mount Diablo comes from a name Spanish soldiers assigned to an indigenous village set near a thicket near modern-day Concord. Soldiers said a group of American Indians escaped an 1805 military campaign with the help of evil spirits.

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