Everyone is welcome at the annual Indian Island Candlelight Vigil of Remembrance and Healing, Saturday 23rd February from 5 to 7 p.m. at the west end of Woodley Island, Eureka. Please bring your own candle. The vigil has been held rain or shine on the last Saturday of February for the past 22 years. From a central fire, a Wiyot elder will light a candle from which all the other candles will be lit. As in past years, a moment of silence will be observed for the victims of violence - prayers, songs and poems will be shared as the spirit inspires.
Directions: West end of Woodley Island which is the island with the marina on it in Humboldt Bay between Eureka and Samoa. From Samoa Bridge (Highway 255) exit at Woodley Island. Drive carefully to the west end and park. Walk north towards the the Fisherman’s Memorial Statue.
Some history behind the event:
Indian Island has been the center of the Wiyot world since it was given by the Creator to the Wiyot people when time began. Groups of Wiyot lived in very familiar areas: around the Eel River on or near present day Fortuna, Loleta and Ferndale; around the southern end of Humboldt Bay on or near South Spit, Hookton, King Salmon and Bucksport; and around the northern end of Humboldt Bay from in Samoa, Manila, Arcata, Jacoby Creek, Freshwater and Eureka. Every year, the Wiyot held dances at the center of the world on Indian Island to which all were welcome.
While Wiyot people may have met individual white people from the visits of the Spanish and the Russians, nothing prepared them for arrival of the American white settlers in 1850.
When Humboldt Bay was settled in 1850, there were between 1,500 and 2,000 Wiyot in the area and thousands more native Americans in other groups in the vast relatively unexplored territory north of Fort Ross.(1)
Native peoples in this part of California traditionally had a cycle of ceremonies and dances to maintain and bring about world renewal. One of these, the seven to ten day long World Renewal ceremony had been held at the village of Tuluwat on Indian Island since time immemorial.
The Wiyot had no way to know that 1860 would be any different than the previous ten years of American settlement. Yes, the local press was on the usual rampage against Indian problems and yes there had been harsh words from locals, but no warning was given to the Indians, no presentiment of disaster felt as the 1860s ceremonies continued on 26 February 1860.(2)
As was customary, the men left the island at night to return the next day with supplies. But this night broke with all tradition when a group of as few as four white American men rowed over from Eureka, shot the few Wiyot men left on the island and murdered between forty and sixty children, women and elders as they slept.(2) Within two days hundreds more Wiyot were dead as whites continued the slaughter at the South Spit, and near Fortuna, Hydesville and Rio Dell (collectively referred to as “Eel River” sites).(3)(4)
And as responsible people, including Robert Gunther who had purchased Indian Island only three days before saw what had happened in the night,(4) some were moved to write about it, including Bret Harte (quoted in (2)), and a U.S. Treasury agent named J. Ross Browne: “Children climbed upon their mothers breasts, and sought nourishment from the fountains that death had drained; girls and boys lay here and there with their throats cut from ear to ear; men and women, clinging to each other in their terror, were found perforated with bullets or cut to pieces with knives all were cruelly murdered!” (3)
One of the few survivors, Jerry James, Captain Jim’s Son, was found covered in his dead mother’s blood. Other survivors had hidden in the sloughs and bay; two girls were hidden in a barrel by their pregnant mother Lucy. The violence didn’t stop with the named massacres. Lucy was later murdered by James Brown, one of the named Indian Island murderers.(5) And the violence continued. Jose Romero, a Spaniard who lived with the Indians was father of two of Lucy’s children was killed by Indians who suspected him of complicity in the massacre. Lucy and Jose’s orphaned children Annie (later Preston) and Charles (later Muhlberg) were raised by white families.(6) Orphaned children who survived the massacres were often sold into slavery by the same men who murdered their parents.(1)
“Some stories told of only one baby surviving the massacre, others of two or three but actually there were several survivors who stayed hid for fear of also being killed. The three children that were known about were two sisters and a brother.” Additionally Mad River Billy survived, he “jumped into the bay and swam across to Eureka, and walked around the bay, arriving at the Nixon ranch just after my grandmother had gotten up. He knocked and as she opened the door, fell through in a faint. She brought him to and his first words upon regaining consciousness were, “Bad white men. He murdered my mother, my brothers, sisters and all my children. Just butcher them.”(6)
Whites were also threatened and at risk from the violence. The metaphysics of Indian hatred ran deep in frontier communities.(7) A contemporary wrote: “Society is completely demoralized on Eel river and the Thugs are largely in the majority, led on by Wiley of the Humboldt Times, and by Van Nest the Sheriff. Young men talk and think of nothing else but hanging and killing young Diggers and their mothers. The pulpit is silent, and the preachers say not a word. In fact, they dare not. …Two or three men who were on the last Grand Jury which sat at Eureka, were Thugs.”(8)
Years later, settler Dorcas J. Spencer wrote “My father’s home was probably the only one south of Eel River that was not notified and its *men invited to take part in the massacre* on Indian Island and two others near the coast on the same night, Feb. 26, 1860.”(3)
By 1862, less than 200 Wiyot survived massacres, forced movements to various reservations, starvation, privation and disease.(1) The world was broken.
Even contemporaries of the murderers recognized that the California Indians posed no real threat to the whites: “I am satisfied, from an acquaintance of eleven years with the Indians of California, that, had the least care been taken of them, these disgraceful massacres would never have occurred. A more inoffensive and harmless race of beings does not exist on the face of the earth; but, wherever they attempted to procure a subsistence, they were hunted down; driven from the reservations by the instinct of self-preservation; shot down by the settlers upon the most frivolous pretexts; and abandoned to their fate by the only power that could have afforded them protection [the U.S. Government].”(3)
A hundred years pass… then forty-four more. In May 2004, the Eureka City Council made history by unanimously voting to return 40 acres of Indian Island to the Wiyot Tribe.(9) Clean up of environmental toxins from nearly a century of industrial use continues before the site can be safely accessed.(10)
The world renewal dance from 1860 is unfinished. Perhaps we will live to see it finished on a cleaned Indian Island in our lifetimes. Until then, join us each last Saturday night in February this year and Februaries yet to come for the vigil. Speak with the ghosts of our past as they warn us against the irrational hatreds and violence of our present.
– References –
*(1): Joan Crandell, The Indian Island Massacre: An investigation of the events that precipitated the Wiyot Murders, Masters Thesis, Humboldt State University, May 2005 http://humboldt-dspace.calstate.edu/bitstream/handle/2148/30/Crandell.pdf
*(2): Jerry Rohde “Genocide and Extortion: 150 years later, the hidden motive behind the Indian Island Massacre”, North Coast Journal 25 February 2010. http://www.northcoastjournal.com/news/2010/02/25/genocide-and-extortion-indian-island/
*(3): J. Ross Browne, California’s Indians: A Clever Satire on the Governments dealings with its Indian Wards, Published by Harper Brothers in 1864, reprint with note by Spencer printed on rear cover. http://archive.org/details/californiaindians00browrich
*(4): Lynette’s NorCal History Blog: Gunther’s memory of the massacre http://lynette707.wordpress.com/2009/08/08/gunthers-memory-of-the-massacre/
*(5): Lynette’s NorCal History Blog: She was known by the name of Lucy
*(6): Rosaline Preston & Carol Huber, Preston-Lindsey Trail, start around page 98
*(7): Herman Melville, The Confidence Man: His Masquerade. New York: Dix, Edwards & Co., 1857http://www.gutenberg.org/files/21816/21816-h/21816-h.htm#CHAPTER_XXVI
*(8): The San Francisco Bulletin, June 1, 1860
*(9): Indian Island Candlelight Vigil http://www.northcoastjournal.com/calendar/events/annual-indian-island-candlelight-vigil/
*(10): Jessica Cejnar, Indian Island cleanup nearly finished; Wiyot Tribe searching for additional project funding, June 13, 2012 http://www.times-standard.com/localnews/ci_20846244/indian-island-cleanup-nearly-finished-wiyot-tribe-searching
Articles about Indian Island on this blog. http://humboldtherald.wordpress.com/?s=indian+island
Police were called to a daycare where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.
Reports of a guy who got hit in the head with a can of soda. He was lucky it was a soft drink.
Over worked burglar tells police: I relish the fact that you’ve mustard the strength to ketchup to me.
A thief was arrested after therapist suggests he take something for his kleptomania.
Despite Popular Demand, It’s back! The Pun-off – a benefit for Making Headway’s Brain Injury Prevention and Care programs.
Watch heavywits square off in a competition of amazing unpopularity.
Laugh, help others and enjoy the Pun-off – March 2nd at the Arcata
Theater Lounge. Doors open -7:30 . Pun-off begins at 8PM.
Tickets – $16 at the door so get there early. The Pun-off always
sells out. The Pun-off – March 2nd, Arcata Theater Lounge.
Disappointment guaranteed. Your actual smileage may vary.
Make you plans now because while time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.
Posted by Kathy
Gardening can have radical political potential. I am starting with this statement because this tends to be a political blog and not one of backyard DIY hints and advice. However I do have onion starts that I need to get into the ground so I am not going to spend a lot of time writing this. It’s Sunday and it’s sunny out.
Gardening can create community, grow healthy food, relieve stress, and imporve ones satisfaction with life.
Chickens? Bees? Worm bins?
A high school student is building a tiny house to enable him to go to collage without accumulating unmanageable debt. With his tiny house on wheels he can rent space in someone’s yard. The 130-square-foot home on wheels will include a shower, eco-friendly composting toilet, kitchenette, and even a guest bed.
There are a few tiny house businesses in Northern California. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few don’t pop up in Humboldt.
From Six Rivers Planned Parenthood Facebook Page
For the first time ever the national Right to Life’s 40 Days of Life campaign has come to Humboldt County. Anti-choice protesters are planning to visit our Health Center every day for 40 days – carrying signs, handing out misleading information, video taping & photographing our patients and may even yell hurtful things. Their presence harasses our staff and intimidates our patients so we’re fighting back by launching a PLEDGE-A-PICKETER campaign!
Join the Pledge-A-Picket campaign by pledging a set amount for each day the Six Rivers Planned Parenthood health center is picketed between February 13 – March 24, 2013 or Make a one-time donation toward the campaign. More info here: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/srpp/pledge-picketer-campaign-40956.htm
Posted by Kathy
- Behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.
- Strength of emotion or an unpleasant or destructive natural force
The majority of men are not violent, The majority of men don’t rape, hit, abuse, or have anger management problems but some do. This is why women and men around the world will be gathering to break the chain of violence.
Invitation From: Nezzie Wade
This may not be the first or last time you’ll get info on One Billion Rising Eureka.
Please join us Friday, February 15th from 6:pm – 10:pm at the Eureka Women’s Club in concert with the global rising (48 continuous hours) dances in 200 plus countries and territories participating in One Billion Rising. Pretty exciting when you imagine that we are all going to be dancing together to rise for breaking the chain of violence against women and girls. Eileen McGee, Vanessa Vrtiak and I have been working hard, along with volunteers from North Coast Rape Crisis Team and Humboldt Domestic Violence Services, and more, to make this night of dancing and sharing a success.
Violence is a human issue, not just an issue for women and girls; however, One Billion Rising began as a call to action based on the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With a world population at 7 billion plus, this adds up to more than ONE BILLION WOMEN AND GIRLS. One Billion Rising is an Eve Ensler instigated campaign and will again raise lots of money for education, media and shelters and other programs for women and survivors of abuse. All proceeds go to North Coast Rape Crisis Team and Humboldt Domestic Violence Services.
I hope you will gather some folks and come join us on Friday! We will have good food, no host beer and wine, a story table, short video and some great dancing with the music selected for the theme by DJ Goldilocks! We will also have a 50/50 raffle. All for only $5.00 – $10.00 fee. This charge to get in is on a sliding scale so those who want to contribute more can do so; hopefully, it will allow for many more folks to participate. The dance is an all ages, community-wide event. One Billion Rising is also part of the historic V-Day (now V week!) activities.
If you, or any one you know, would like to volunteer at the event, we will always have things to do. I am also attaching a PSA for the event. Remember, all proceeds go to North Coast Rape Crisis Team and Humboldt Domestic Violence Services. Again, please share as you can. You can learn more by visiting the One Billion Rising Website at http://onebillionrising.org/
Thanks very much!
I hope to see you there.
If you have any questions, please call or email me or email@example.com
Guest Post By Kathy
The city streets of Eureka have become outdated and hazardous. H Street and I Street are both problematic. These fast paced streets are difficult to cross. Cars parked along the curb hamper visibility while the single direction three lane design encourages drivers to increase their speed. Two-way streets have a different effect on traffic flow. They modify traffic speed and turn accident filled areas into neighborhoods again
Many towns and cities are changing one way streets back into two way streets. The benefit of this a slower safer more attentive flow of traffic. Often bike paths or lanes are included in the new design to encourage healthier transportation choices.
At the time most of our one way streets were created traffic engineers were taught to consider only moving the most cars, the traffic, from one point to another quickly and safely. Transportation engineers are now looking more broadly at road design. Moving cars quickly is being replaced by evaluating the overall effect the road has on the neighborhood it runs through.
In Vancouver Washington business picked up their downtown area when the main road was changed from one way to two ways. Contrary to their fear that doing so would cause congestion they found that it created increased sales for business in the area and that pedestrian traffic increased as well. Before changing the road they had tried many things to enliven their downtown district, many of them costly, but it was only by changing the traffic flow that they saw an increase in business in the area.
The Eureka City Council has tasked the Transportation Safety Commission with developing a Transportation Safety Plan that will address how to make our streets safer for everyone; bicycles, pedestrians and cars. They have been working on the Plan for four years and the public has yet to see even a rough draft. Hopefully, the new City Manager will take an interest in seeing this plan completed and become a part of the updated Generall Plan that the Council will begin working on soon.
It’s time for people to stop being injured and killed on the streets of Eureka in such outrageously high numbers.
Canada, United Kingdom, France, Australia, Germany, India, Philippines, Mexico, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands,Brazil, Indonesia, Sweden, Costa Rica, Spain, Ireland, South Africa, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Finland, New Zealand,Republic of Korea, Iceland. China and 14 other countries.
This is a list of hits The Herald has received from far away places. It’s easy to comment and say Hello Tell a little about where you are and who you are if you would like.
(posted by Mitch)
Imagine growing up in the “god hates fags” Westboro Baptist Church. You are taught that your insular group, and only your tiny insular group, is doing good in the sinful world.
Imagine summoning up the intellectual curiosity to question the only belief system you’ve ever seen, and then summoning up the courage to leave friends and most family behind.
Few things give me hope for humanity’s capability to turn towards the good. This is one of them:
[The dreams and successes of a community in bringing an abandoned school back into service for their neighborhood are well displayed in this article by Heidi Benzonelli. The article is posted on the KaBOOM! website both in thanks to KaBOOM for their help and to encourage other communities about what is possible when people work together. --Mrs Thomas]
From the KaBOOM! article:
In July 2012, we partnered with PG&E and the Westside Community Improvement Association in Eureka, Calif. to build a playground at a site that was formerly an abandoned schoolyard. Not only are children of all ages flocking to the new playground, but neighbors are getting to know each other, crime is decreasing, and families are biking more and eating better. Here, Eureka resident Heidi Benzonelli (pictured right) tells us how the playground changed everything:
We had a dream—to turn an abandoned public school site into a playground, a park, and a community center. Piece by piece, our dream is becoming reality.
The Jefferson Elementary School closed in 2005 and its facilities went into a state of blight. When it closed, officials took away the playground equipment, installed a chainlink fence around the schoolyard, and put up “No Trespassing” signs. But that didn’t stop kids from playing there. They used to crawl through the fence or pry the gates open to get in. There was no playground, but they were running around the schoolyard and playing with a huge truck tire.
The neighborhood rallied together and we were able to raise enough money and secure financing to obtain ownership of the property. The first thing we did was to open the gates, and the kids and all their brothers and sisters came pouring in. Then we started reaching out for grants and partnerships everywhere. We always knew what we wanted; what we didn’t realize is that if we just got started, the energy would build on itself. One day, kids were pushing a tire around the schoolyard and the next day, PG&E and KaBOOM! came forward with a grant for a new playground.
I can’t tell you what a difference the playground has made. It has been a magnet for everyone to come and bring their kids. Kids now know their neighbors—we’ve restored the community commons. Because they’re there, people rake the wood chips and pick up trash. The playground gives them an opportunity to be of service and give what they can give.
Before, we were having some problems with rival tagging and some of our younger teenagers getting involved in gang activity. A big problem was lack of options. They’d ask themselves, “What are we going to do today?” and then take the path of least resistance of what was available to them. Kids now have a beautiful playground, and what’s available is a place to come and play and be kids. We have no more graffiti, and we’re not seeing the younger kids involved in gang activity. The other thing that’s happened is the parents are stepping up and taking ownership. They’re saying, “This is OUR playground, this is a family thing going on here.” The people who were using the site because it was abandoned are gone – just through self-governance, not signs or rules or threats.
The playground has had an impact on kids of all ages. One of our volunteers has a little boy who’s about two, and before the playground there was no place for her to let him loose. He was always in the stroller. Now he comes to the playground every day—he climbs the climbing wall and goes all the way up to the top of the play structure.
Some of our volunteers, including me, had never been involved in a big community project before. Once you get a taste of it, you want more. Now we’re working on transforming the North building of the school into a community event center and renovating three classrooms for all-age recreation, everything from infant toddlers to teens to older people. We are renovating the kitchen into a fully permitted commercial kitchen so we can provide healthy nutritious food at all of our events. Kids are getting addicted to fruits and vegetables! An organization called Bicycle Kitchen is teaching kids how to fix bikes, so we’re promoting the health and physical fitness of our community, as well as offsetting greenhouse gases.
Because we now have a volunteer base, when someone comes forward and wants to do something, BOOM! we’re doing it. A lady called recently and said, “Hey, my mom told me what’s going on down there and I’m a dietician. I’m here for a week and I’d like to teach a class.” We were able to email and call a few parents I met from the KaBOOM! build, and about nine kids showed up. Then a guy said he wanted to do a community drum circle, so we gave him the keys. We’re providing an opportunity for people to share their gifts.
We’ve done it. The gates are open. The kids are playing. The community has come together and is hungry to be of service. We’re succeeding. Thank you KaBOOM!.