Inyo Co Considers New Name For Portagee Joe Campground

Portagee Joe Campground Inyo

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

23 Responses to Inyo Co Considers New Name For Portagee Joe Campground

  1. Steven Weaver January 22, 2020 at 6:33 pm #

    When the campground was named years ago, some one decided to use a different spelling, the way it was pronounced by people who did not even know how to pronounce it correctly. Showing a lack of respect for the 10,000,000 who live in Portugal and the 220,000,000 people who live in Brazil. It was a public relations blunder. I call people what they want to be called, not some other word implying that they are a lesser person.

    • Joann Lijek January 24, 2020 at 12:41 pm #

      Mr. Piros has been dead for 60 years, how are you asking him what he wants to be called? By seance? Does he have any family left to weigh in on this?

  2. Joann Lijek January 20, 2020 at 7:00 pm #

    I have searched the internet, Merriam Webster dictionary online, and my paper dictionary and the only reference I found to the word “portagee” was a blurb for a book, written by a man of Portuguese descent, called “Through a Portagee Gate”. The book is about his father, who came to the US from Portugal.

    I could find no evidence that “portagee” is a racial slur, I could only find the one reference to Portagee. I DID find the word “portugee” in Merriam-Webster, defined as slang or the inferior term for Portuguese. So, what proof has this Berrey guy (secret snowflake?) provided that this is indeed a slur and/or offends anyone, including Portuguese people?(besides him)(give a reason)

    People should remember that the US is made up of immigrants and native people all of whom had their native languages, and accents, and difficulty pronouncing names in other languages. If the distinction between two Joes was that one was from Portugal and one from Poland, why would it be racist to call one Polack Joe and the other Portagee? I can almost guarantee that no one would want to try to pronounce Polack Joe’s last name, which could be 5 syllables with no vowels.

    As a child of immigrants (my paternal grandparents came from Poland, and my mother immigrated after WWII) I believe I have a right to an opinion here, even if I’m not Portuguese. When I was in grade school, it was acceptable to make fun of Polacks on prime time TV (Laugh-In). Should I sue them?

    A final note; somehow, powers that be decided that the term “Polack” is racist. They provided us with the term “Pole”. When I visited Poland, I found that the “Poles” refer to themselves as “Polacki” or Polacks, so… go figure. So, if when I die and I am lucky enough to have something cool named after me, don’t hesitate to call me a Polack.

    So Mr. Berrey, how about a response?

  3. Steven Weaver January 18, 2020 at 9:57 pm #

    Good job Allen. Because my wife is from Brazil, I am always glad to see more equality and less racial slurs. It is the same now as it was when we were at Mariposa High School together in 1972, I am very glad you are my friend.

  4. Inyo Local January 5, 2020 at 3:19 pm #

    Just more white knight, virtue signaling, social justice warrior BS. Stop changing history. Removing flags, monuments, statues, murals, etc because you may be offended is just wrong. Let history stand, good or bad.

    • Allen Berrey January 8, 2020 at 5:47 am #

      You are right Inyo Local.

      I agree.

      I have withdrawn my objection and threat of a lawsuit.

      The name is evocative of Inyo County and its residents and so should remain.

      • Steven Weaver January 18, 2020 at 10:02 pm #

        Good job Allen. Because my wife is from Brazil, I am always glad to see more equality and less racial slurs. It is the same now as when we were together at Mariposa High School in 1972, I am very glad you are my friend.

  5. Allen Berrey January 1, 2020 at 7:15 pm #

    On second thought, the heck with it.

    If it is so important for Inyo County to call Portuguese Jose Pires a portagee, who am I to stop it?

    It is the government, after all.

    Sorry I brought it up.

  6. Allen the Pinko Commie Snowlake Lawyer Berrey January 1, 2020 at 11:03 am #

    This is Allen Berrey.

    All I’m saying is that if we (I say “we” because this is an Inyo County- not Lone Pine – campground) are going to refer to him by a nickname instead of his real name – Jose Pires – we should at least call him the respectful nickname that appears on his tombstone – Portuguese Joe – rather than the derogatory Portagee Joe.

    I love Inyo County and just wanted to make it better and not use Jose Pires’s memory to perpetuate a slur.

    If you can’t get that then, in the words of Savoy Brown, you have the blues, not me.

    Peace to you all.

  7. The Subaru Kid December 31, 2019 at 9:10 am #

    I’m good with renaming the campground to Portuguese Joe Campground or Jose Pires Campground.

  8. Almost Native December 31, 2019 at 3:46 am #

    I would like to know why the county employees think it is so important to address this issue?
    Personally, I think this county employee should address this issue on her own time!

    • Indygal December 31, 2019 at 5:09 pm #

      Because this hard working person is trying to get ahead of a lawsuit and save our county some money, which is her job. Frankly, she does it very well.

      • Almost Native January 2, 2020 at 2:29 am #

        Indygal, seems to me, the county is encouraging or supporting a law suit now.?It also sounds like the guy and family was proud of his nick name. I’m assuming the family were the ones that put it on his grave stone?

  9. Tinner December 30, 2019 at 5:11 pm #

    How and when did we as a country become so easily offended by names, words and speech?
    Whatever happened to ”sticks and stones”?
    Where does it end?
    Something tells me Joe Pires didn’t give two licks about being called Portagee Joe, something tells me it made him smile and reminded him where he came from each and every time he heard it, something tells me he was too big, strong and too badass of a cowboy to let a nickname bother him.
    NOBODY gets to pick their own nickname. Being given a nickname in ones community is a show of acceptance and often love.
    Weep for the culture.

    • HR December 31, 2019 at 9:11 am #

      Weep for culture lmfao get out of here. Words have meaning, words can be offensive & hurtful. We all know that. Grow. Up.

      • Tinner January 4, 2020 at 2:13 pm #

        HR, “words can be offensive & hurtful”
        To a dead man?

  10. Vindur Tate December 30, 2019 at 8:20 am #

    I don’t know the history of Portagee Joe, however I do know Where I grew up where the Portuguese were the best horsemen around! We called the gates through barbed wire fences “Poeragee gate”. I still call them that…not a “cowboy gate”. It is an honor to still use the old terms with absolutely no sarcasm or ill will intended.

  11. Brian December 29, 2019 at 12:19 pm #

    Is Allen Berrey Portagee ?

    • Tinner December 31, 2019 at 3:24 pm #

      I doubt it, I’d bet he’s more likely somebody who wants to go down in history as crusader who has a need to leave legacy and to be remembered.

  12. Not PC December 27, 2019 at 9:08 pm #

    Let’s bring this to full light. There are two meanings: one being a “New England” derogatory term, and one a mere slang for one who is of Portuguese decent. Last I checked, Lone Pine isn’t on the east coast. Since it is on his tombstone, I’d suggest it was a term of endearment, thus the campground being named after him for his legacy and not a derogatory term to have something to remember him by. Leave it to Berrey and Chapman to run it further and incorrectly into the ground regarding a subject that they know nothing about. “Town Character” shows the affection and respect the community had for him at the time. Get over yourselves. “PC” again running amuck.

    • Get Over Yourself December 31, 2019 at 9:10 am #

      It doesn’t matter if it’s here or there, if it’s derogatory in one place, it’s derogatory period. It says “Portuguese Joe” on his headstone, so why not rename the campground to match? Why do you care? Why is being less offensive so offensive to you? We get it, you loudly & obnoxiously want to stay stuck in the past but sorry, the rest of us are moving along with the times. Keep up or get run over. Xoxo

  13. Pinko the Snowflake December 27, 2019 at 7:31 pm #

    Where is the photo of the gravestone that is referenced in the press release?


    • Kat Greenman December 30, 2019 at 10:41 am #

      Photo is at the top of this story.


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