Eureka Considers a Formal Apology for Wiyot Massacre
The 1860 Wiyot Massacre on Indian Island was not the first in the region, and it wouldn’t be the last. It was one of many efforts by the encroaching white population to eradicate the Indians who called California home. Trouble began for the Wiyot people in 1849 when the discovery of gold brought white settlers to Humboldt Bay.
The Wiyot Massacre of February 26, 1860 left some 80 to 250 Wiyot women and children dead when six white settlers attacked the village of Tuluwat on Indian Island in the Bay.
Tuluwat was the spiritual center for the Wiyot. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, there were 20 villages spread over 40 square miles on the island, with a population of some 3,000. The attack by those six men—who were locally known but never charged—started a downward spiral for the Wiyot. Those who survived the attack took refuge at Fort Humboldt, where nearly half died of starvation or exposure. Those who remained after that were forced to relocate to reservations at Klamath.
“The Wiyot people did not disappear, and attempted to return to their homeland. Often, they found their homes destroyed and lands taken. Wiyot cultural practices and language were discouraged by official policies of ‘acculturation.’ Wiyot people learned to work and live within the white community, effectively ‘walking in two worlds.’ Wiyot people often went to white schools, married European immigrants, and helped to build the timber, fishing and agricultural industries,” says the Wiyot website.
The City of Eureka will vote tomorrow, March 18 on whether they will send a letter to the Wiyot Tribe apologizing for the massacre. If it passes the council, it will be the first formal apology for the 1860 massacre, reports the Eureka Times-Standard.
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