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THE OUTDOORS DIGEST | BRIEFS

A mountainous exorcism

June 14, 2005|Joe Robinson

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays and devil's food baker Betty Crocker may use the name of a certain fallen angel with impunity, but Art Mijares draws the line at Contra Costa County's highest peak, Mt. Diablo.

It's so offensive to his religious sensibilities that this rock, which dominates the vista from his home in Oakley, Calif., bears the Spanish name for the devil that he's trying to change the name to Mt. Kawakum, which he says is a Native American term for "laughing mountain, everywhere seen."

The effort did touch off chuckles from opponents, who know that Mijares' request has made it to the U.S. Board of Geographic Names, are taking the matter seriously. Save Mt. Diablo, a conservation group that claims to have preserved more than 80,000 acres of land in the shadow of the summit, argues on its website that demonizing the peak's moniker flies in the face of the historical record, the area's reputation as "Diablo country" and that, besides, "kawakum" is a fictitious name.

The Diablo will be in those details -- and Mijares' need for substantial local support, not evident as yet, which is required to change a landmark's name. The Board is taking public comment on the issue.

Joe Robinson

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