The Santa Ana Sentinel

Santa Ana 101

Posted in Education, Opinion by Omar Ávalos Gallegos on January 2, 2013

School is in, and to reiterate, Santa Ana is not “the OC.”

It is much less “SanTana.”

This argument corrects, deconstructs, dismisses and reeducates people away from the mob mentality, fad and bandwagon, that of those that defile the Santa Ana name with a willfully invented misnomer.

Let’s review:

No, it’s not a typo. Many people think Santa Ana’s history begins in 1869, which is when Kentuckian William Spurgeon plotted some acres and called it the town of Santa Ana, but his plot was only a tiny fraction of what Santa Ana was prior.

Friar Junípero Serra set out of Baja California, Mexico and accompanied soldier Gaspar de Portolá to Alta California, then part of New Spain, in 1768. After settling San Diego they continued north until they arrived at a great valley they named in honor of Saint Anne. They called their finding el Valle de Santa Ana (Santa Ana Valley). It was within this valley that they established Misión San Juan Capistrano, which was built in 1776.

With Serra and Portolá came other soldiers and the higher-ranking of these received land grants called ranchos. One was granted to Manuel Nieto, which was called Rancho Los Nietos (part of modern-day Los Angeles and Orange Counties). His grant was further north but still expanded into the Santa Ana valley.

The other ranch was granted to sergeant José Antonio Yorba in 1810 and his grant covered the extent of what later on was called central “Orange County.” Yorba’s grant was called Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana.

With the arrival of squatters and the land rush, the Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana gradually was chipped away at until only the core, the heart of the valley next to the Santa Ana River remained, which is what Spurgeon very honorably named Santa Ana.

Prior to the Mexican-American War (1846-48), the Mexican government partitioned the ranchos of Alta California to the descendants of the first grantees. The Nietos enjoyed grants as did the Yorbas.

As far as “Orange County” is concerned, many if not all cities once had a name association with Santa Ana. Anaheim, Fullerton and Placentia were called Rancho San Juan Cajón de Santa Ana. Irvine was formerly Rancho Lomas de Santiago (Santiago Hills), in reference to Santiago de Santa Ana.

What many modern-day South Orange County dwellers largely ignore is that most of their cities were named by the Mexican government in the nineteenth century. Some of these are Trabuco, Niguel, Misión Vieja (NOT “Mission Viejo”), and so on.

The Santa Ana name that those outside of here detest has a great history. It is one that is nearly one hundred years older than the gold rush, the massive land grab with its squatters, and one hundred years older than what the “official record” says: 1869.

Editor’s note: The Wikipedia articles mentioned in this article (except Los Nietos), in addition to all others related to Orange County as well as an article on the Ranchos of Orange County, were started by me and later added to by others.

– From “Santa Ana: Established 1769,” by Omar Ávalos Gallegos, originally published on the Santa Ana Sentinel on June 23, 2012.

That anyone would defile the Santa Ana name and brand and use “SanTana” in its place is whimsical and seriously maniacal. Instead of building a respect and appreciation for this name and brand, one would make up a misnomer and cause a runoff of misnomer-writing mediocrities. Copies. What’s worse is that this misnomer is written intentionally.

To all publications, no matter how “indie” or “hip” they think they are, and in acting in that way justify writing misnomers, doing that is just as worse as the many hate-spewing trolls that attack this city’s name and reputation found at the Register and elsewhere.

6 Responses

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  1. Jacky Acosta said, on January 3, 2013 at 12:04 am

    I was curious to read your write-up when someone told me your topic. I am one of those people who like saying SanTana, and I proudly spell it and pronounce it that way. Just as you write, “Santa Ana is not ‘the OC'”, that many people of color have reappropriated the significance of the word. Orange County as a whole is very upper-to-middle class, white, and conservative, and SanTana does not represent a fraction of that. We are living in a city whose majority population is Latino, and by which most household’s have English as their second language. Languages, cultures, and history changes constantly. We as people change, and are complex by nature. We cannot stay stagnant and assume progress will happen sporadically. We create our histories, and we create our cultures. Language is part of culture.

    As a English language learner, my Spanish is dominated by my English. My Spanish has an English accent, and would be described as pocho Spanish. Yet, I do not mind, because I don’t want to stop speaking my native language–in doing so, I would loose my ability to connect and communicate with older generations. And despite that, older generations are trying and learning English. So sometimes we meet in the middle, with Spanglish.

    SanTana, rolls down my tongue as I speak my city’s name. There is no pause in “Santa Ana”, because to say it in such a way is to Americanize my Spanish. It is the same way I pronounce “Los Angeles” in a Spanish accent versus in an English accent. Saying SanTana is a way of decolonizing my English, and the privilege that comes from speaking a dominant language in a country whose majority population is Latino. And as many root words in the English language stem from Romantic languages(i.e.: Latin), it is a way of keeping my Spanish pronunciations alive.

    And besides, how did you grow up learning a language? Whether it be Spanish or English, we learn with phonetics…

    • Omar Ávalos Gallegos said, on January 3, 2013 at 12:44 am

      The most immediate and obvious answer to your reply is: take into account that the words Santa Ana are, in fact, pronounced as one word in Spanish. This has ALWAYS been the case. 90% percent of the time Spanish speakers are not going to pronounce each word separately. I don’t have to spell anything differently to get that precise pronunciation. Let’s not kid ourselves.

      I’m sorry, Miss, but if you think that spelling “SanTana” is progress due to a process of change then you are sadly mistaken.

      You want to argue change without considering that people can also change for the worse. People and cultures can also degenerate.

      I said it before and I’ll say it again, if local people look to some publication like the OC Weekly as exemplary, then we have a long way to go. The collective conscience has a very long way to go.

      Spanish was my first language and I spoke and understood it long before I learned correct grammar. After educating myself in Spanish grammar I internalized these teachings and put them into practice, permanently. I am extremely respectful of the Spanish and English languages. That’s why I don’t pardon someone who misspells their Spanish surname, like for example, writing Nunez or Munoz instead of Núñez or Muñoz. To me it speaks volumes about a person.

      So no, I am absolutely not sympathetic to the attempts to justify the improvisation of a “pocho” lingo. In fact, I hate that term, and I hate even being considered or called that. I can safely say that I am too deep into my Mexican heritage, and versed in Spanish more than the average person in Santa Ana, to fit into that category.

  2. Jacky Acosta said, on January 3, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    1) I like how you knit picked through my response and took it out of context.
    2) Don’t call me “Miss”, you know my name. In order to respond to your little rant, I had to log in with my Facebook account. You have my name, and a picture. You know who I am, we have met before.
    3) If you think I meant, “spelling “SanTana” is progress due to a process of change”, then you are sadly mistaken because you clearly missed the point and cannot understand OR you simply don’t care to understand my point of view because you’re so fixed on the past history of Santa Ana. You ignore your people’s history that is being constructed now.
    4) I don’t care about the OC Weekly, I wasn’t even arguing for/against it.

    • Omar Ávalos Gallegos said, on January 3, 2013 at 7:09 pm

      Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that you would take offense to me using the title Miss out of respect. Since when is calling someone Miss offensive?

      I didn’t know that you and I were on a first name basis. I may have seen your face somewhere, but I sure did not match a name to it until I saw your profile pic. OOOOOHHHHH. Am I supposed to know who you are? Is that it?

      This isn’t about a fixation with presenting past history as much as it is about arguing against poor taste. The point of bringing up history is to, hopefully, build an appreciation for the correct name, SANTA ANA.

      You don’t care about the OC Weekly but where else did you get that spelling? Santanero? And where did they get that spelling?

      Speaking of little rants, I will not allow emotions to get the better of any commenter to the point of getting insulting. Your response is all for the sake of defending that misnomer and in doing that you suggest that I’m ignorant of “a history being created?” I am ignorant? That misnomer is history in the making? Progress?

      Ni madres.

  3. Jacky Acosta said, on January 3, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    As for OC Weekly, you assume I read their publication. And for Santanero, go ask them! The fuck should I know. Geez, I don’t even want to begin with whatever you mean with your introduction. We’ve met like 3 or 4 times, shook hands, said our hellos. Whether you remember my name or my face, you can use deductive reasoning from looking at my fb picture. I guess it was my fault to assume you’d make some effort to remember someone you’ve met more than twice. You’ve digressed from your topic to offend your readers. Next time I see you walking down 2nd Street, i’ll make sure to ignore you, pretend we never met, and hope that we are not reintroduced for a fifth time.

    • Omar Ávalos Gallegos said, on January 4, 2013 at 10:23 pm

      I’ll tell you what, Miss, I’m going to allow your comment to stand just as it is, uncensored. I don’t know how your comment posted without me approving it because I don’t allow expletives, but this one filtered through and I just got to it tonight, so I’ll let your emotional state shine through for all to see. Fair?

      Talk about digressing. Your emotions have turned this into I don’t know what. I’m arguing against poor taste and that misnomer and you want to get personal, upset because I don’t know your name, nor really know you anyway.

      How does the saying go, “I’m not good with names.” I know that I’m not, and I’m not the only one, so to get pissed off over that is ridiculous.

      You have every right to ignore me, as do I. I’m very good at that.


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