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California named in Honor of Black Mystical Queen

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Califia (probably from Arabic "Caliph", which was understood by Europeans to mean king/ruler) is a legendary Amazon warrior queen, associated with the mythical Island of California. The US state of California, as well as the Mexican states of Baja California and Baja California Sur, are thought by some to be named after the queen. The legend of Queen Califia appears to date back to the novel Las sergas de Esplandián (The Adventures of Esplandián), written around 1510 by the Spanish writer Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo:

It is known that to the right of the Indies there exists an island called California very near the terrestrial paradise; and peopled by Black women among whom there was not a single man since they lived in the way of the Amazons.

They had beautiful robust bodies, spirited courage and great strength. Their island was the most impregnable in the world with its cliffs and headlands and rocky coasts. Their weapons were all of gold. . . because in all the island there was no metal except gold. And there ruled over that island of California a queen of majestic proportions, more beautiful than others, and in the very vigor of her womanhood. She was not petite, nor blond, nor golden- haired. She was large, and Black as the ace of clubs. But the prejudice of color did not then exist even among the most brazen-faced or the most copper-headed. For, as you shall learn, she was reputed the most beautiful of women; and it was she, O Californias! who accomplished great deeds, she was valiant and courageous and ardent with a brave heart, and had ambitions to execute nobler actions than had been performed by any other ruler – Queen Califia.

This document helped to precipitate the Spanish hunt for gold in North America. In 1536 when the explorer Hernán Cortés landed with his crew in what is known today as Baja California, they believed that they had arrived in Califia's land. A portion of the original of this document Las sergas de Esplandián was translated by Edward Everett Hale for The Antiquarian Society, and the story was printed in the Atlantic Monthly magazine in 1864. By 1770, the entire Pacific coast controlled by Spain had been given the name California, and the Spanishspeaking people who lived there were called Californios A 1926 portrayal of Queen Califia and her Amazons is found in a mural in the Room of the Dons at the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco, California. It was created for the opening of the hotel in 1926 by Maynard Dixon and Frank Von Sloun.

The Spirit of California - "Golden Dreams" was a 23-minute film showing the history of California through several recreated scenes, narrated by Whoopi Goldberg as Califia, the Queen of California. The attraction, at Disney's California Adventure at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, opened with the park on February 8, 2001, and closed on September 7, 2008. It was open only to school groups until March of 2009. It was later demolished in July to make way for the construction of a Little Mermaid ride.

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