A Little Bit of SF Political History

February 19, 2013 16 comments

Why the War in Vietnam

Click on the title above, and it will take you to a PDF of an old anti-Vietnam War leaflet.

Spent Sunday night at my mother’s and she had found it in her storage. Simple black and white thing – no graphics. My parents believe it may have been the first anti-Vietnam war leaflet in San Francisco. It was their creation.

They first pulled it out when I was in high school. Having read some of the SWP stuff I was bringing home – triggering bad memories of their own run-ins with the SWP and similar groups back in the 60s and early 70s, they took it out to show me how political literature ought to be written.

But first a little history. Note that the group members all put their names, addresses, and phone numbers on the back. Naivete. They learned quickly that it was a bad idea. Note that there are four Kirks on the list. Evelyn, my aunt, died a few years back.

At least one other person on the list, Gayle Figueroa, was a family friend who died just a couple of years after this leaflet was printed.  Joseph (now goes by Jose) is still alive and kicking.

My parents don’t remember much about the others on the list, except that they were all in their late 20s or older – some of them from radical families and others Civil Rights Movement veterans (with plenty of overlap between the two). Ace Delosada was a bit older, and was active in the CIO before it merged with the AFL – I know this from an old library archived newspaper article I found online.

There was plenty of political activity in Berkeley at the time, largely the Free Speech Movement on campus, as follow-up to the CORE activities against job discrimination in grocery stores and the anti-HUAC demonstration which radicalized so many of them at City Hall. There was not much outside of labor happening in San Francisco. The North Beach scene was never really political in anything other than a cultural way, and the Haight Ashbury was just starting to percolate. I did not know until I saw this leaflet again (and didn’t notice it 30 years ago) that my parents had moved us from Mill Valley to Castro Street. By the time I was two, we lived on Cole Street in the Haight (and left for Moss Beach and the Blue Lady well before the Summer of Love when I was three). So this leaflet was printed in 1965 or perhaps early 1966.

And it generated an enormous response.

These were older activists – some of them seasoned. Grounded. And they understood the Socratic approach to rhetoric. I think it is one of the best written leaflets I’ve seen. It doesn’t tell you how to think. It’s primarily a series of questions. Designed to simply make you think. It avoids words like “imperialism.” And it avoids slogans like “Say No to the War in Vietnam!” It invites the reader to find his/her own voice. It respects the reader.

And the activists who understand this concept are far and few. Part of the reason I was drawn into the Christian left movements, even before I seriously considered religion itself, was the approach of humility and respect sometimes lacking in the secular movements, particularly in the hard old and new left milieus.

Still, the leaflet resulted in threatening phone calls, and other harassment. But the group grew rather quickly.

The group that formed would evolve into the San Francisco contingent of what would become known as The Peace and Freedom Party. My parents didn’t stay involved. They thought that Eldritch Cleaver was a bad choice to run for President in 1968, but supported him anyway. By 1972, they were supporting McGovern even though they liked the P&F candidate – Dr. Benjamin Spock. When I want to cast a protest vote because the Democrat is too conservative or otherwise undesirable, I opt for the P&F Party candidate more often than the Green, and I wish they would merge. We don’t need our fringe groups splintered at the ballot.

Anyway, just thought I would share.

Annual Indian Island Vigil of Remembrance and Healing, Sat. 2/23 5pm

February 19, 2013 7 comments

candles(Guest post by Ellin Beltz, Ferndale)

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.

Sponsored by the Table Bluff Reservation-Wiyot Tribe, please contact “michelle@wiyot.com” or 707-733-5055 for more information.

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

Additional reading:
Articles about Indian Island on this blog. https://humboldtherald.wordpress.com/?s=indian+island

Pun Crimes

February 18, 2013 6 comments

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


February 17, 2013 8 comments

imagesGardening 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?






Tiny Homes Can Be a Big Solution

February 14, 2013 26 comments

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.

Anti-choice Protesters Planning 40 Day Harassment of Planned Parenthood

February 13, 2013 87 comments

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 imagesvisit 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


February 12, 2013 24 comments
Guest Post by Kathy Srabian
  1. Behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill imagessomeone or something.
  2. 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 onebillioneureka@gmail.com

Our Deadly Streets Seek Redesign

February 10, 2013 33 comments


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.

Say Hello

February 9, 2013 14 comments

imgresCanada, 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.

The Good News

February 7, 2013 10 comments

dpff(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: