California group seeks to change Confederate place name
LONE PINE, Calif. (AP) — The rethinking of place names in light of U.S. racial history has turned to California’s Alabama Hills, a distinctive high-desert formation named for a Confederate warship.
The Alabama Hills National Recreation Area lies east of the Sierra Nevada near the Owens Valley town of Lone Pine, about 175 miles (282 kilometers) north of Los Angeles.
The dramatic terrain of rounded rocks jumbled atop each other and set against the backdrop of state’s highest peaks has been the setting for hundreds of movie productions from westerns like “How the West Was Won” to war movies, sci-fi and more recently hits like “Gladiator” and “Iron Man.”
The hills were named by Southern sympathizers for the Confederate warship Alabama after it sank the Union gunboat USS Hatteras off Texas in 1863.
Now, the nonprofit environmental group Friends of the Inyo wants to change that, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“Everyone should feel welcome here because this amazing land belongs to everyone,” executive director Wendy Schneider told the Times on Monday.
A change is opposed by Kevin Mazzu of the nonprofit Alabama Hills Stewardship Group.
“Are we going to let people cut our nation’s history in half by getting rid of anything that was named because of the Confederacy?” he said.
The rocky landscape off nearby U.S. 395 is managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
“The BLM supports diversity and inclusion and is looking into this,” said spokeswoman Serena Baker.
Other features of the Sierra are named Kearsarge after a Union warship that sank the Alabama in 1864.