At their Board meeting last Tuesday, December 10, the Inyo County Board of
Supervisors gave the green light to acting County Parks and Recreation Director
Leslie Chapman to bring an item back to the Board recommending a new name for
Portagee Joe Campground, a county campground just west of Lone Pine.
“We will recommend naming it Jose Pires Campground” Chapman said, referring
to the real name of the “town character” after whom the campground was named.
Bishop resident Allen Berrey had long complained to the Board that, because
“portagee” is an offensive ethnic slur, it has no place in the name of a public
campground, especially one at the foot of Mt. Whitney. Berrey had recommended
that the County re-name the campground “Portuguese Joe.”
“I just thought the County should show the man and his Portuguese heritage some
respect by calling him “’Portuguese Joe,’” said Berrey, noting that “Portuguese
Joe” – not the derogatory “Portagee Joe” – is the nickname that appears on Mr.
Pires’s gravestone at the Mt. Whitney Cemetery (see photo below).
Berrey commended and thanked the Board for its decision, stating that “whatever
new name they select, the Supervisors will be doing the enlightened thing.”
The Board of Supervisors will consider whether to re-name the campground and, if
so, what the new name should be, at a public hearing to be held in the spring of