News, events, and information about the Wiyot Indian Table Bluff Tribe and Community.

The Annual Renewal Ceremony is generally held the last weekend in February at the Marina in Eureka, California. All are welcome - please contact Cheryl Seidner at wiyotone@yahoo.com for details. (Feb 28, 2004)

The Table Bluff Wiyot have just signed an agreement to buy 1.5 acres of Indian Island from private owners! We are working on video from this year's vigil, An interview with Cheryl on her work as Tribal Chair and Willow Basketry harvesting.

Seidner: "WE WILL NEED TO RAISE $90,000 IN NINE MONTHS. IF WE DON'T, THEN IT GOES UP IN INCREMENTS. HOWEVER, WE WILL NEED TO RAISE AT THE LEAST $200,000 FOR THE CLEAN-UP, REBUILD THE DOCK, OF COURSE, WE WILL NEED BOAT TRANSPORTATION, AND THE LIST GROWS. TO DO THINGS LIKE CREATE A VILLAGE THAT ONCE OCCUPIED THAT AREA WE'RE LOOKING AT $400,000. ALTHOUGH, ANY AMOUNT ABOVE THE $90,000 WILL BE GREAT."

Cheryl talks about the meaning of the annual vigil (Video Clips)... or also e-mail Cheryl Seidner for more details

From the Eureka area in Northern California and, Table Bluff Wiyot Tribal Chair. Hosted by the Costanoan-Ohlone Indian Canyon Resource

[HISTORY| WIYOT PEOPLE and ART of BASKETWEAVING | MASSACRE and SURVIVOR | ANNUAL VIGIL at Indian Island | CONTACT the WIYOT]

 

 

Indian Island Candlelight Vigil:

thumbnail of Indian Island Vigil 1995

l. to r. Leona Seidner Wilkinson, Marian L. Seidner, Loreta Brown, Cheryl A. Seidner Feb 24, 1996
Click to see a large photo from the 1995 vigil - held every February on Woodly Island, Eureka, California

The Indian Island Candlelight Vigil is a memorial for those who lost their lives at the Indian Island Massacre on February 26, 1860. The memorial was also set up to help heal the rent in the society here locally and around the country. The first vigil was held on the last Saturday of February in 1992. A vigil has been held each year since that time. With each year, the number of participants has grown. The first year there were 75 participants; this past year (1996) there were approximately 300 plus folks. It is the intention of the Wiyot to hold the vigil at some point on the nearby real Indian Island, which at the present time is inaccessible to us.
The Vigil may be the first memorial for the lives lost where the Wiyot, other Indian nations, and non-Indian community have come together. This process helps heal the whole community. A fire is lit. A Wiyot elder lights their candle from the fire and from that candle all candles are lighted. A moment of silence is observed, a prayer is given remembering all who have gone before us, songs are sung, poems are read, and one leaves with a feeling of accomplishment.
This is the beginning of a new year for a community nearly anhilated in 1860

History:

The Wiyot territory starts at Little River and continues down the coast to Bear River, then inland to the first set of mountains. Towns that are within the traditional Wiyot territory are McKinleyville, Blue Lake, Arcata, Eureka, Kneeland, Loleta, Fortuna, Ferndale, and Rohnerville. Rivers within this territory are Mad River (Batwat), Elk River, Eel River and the Van Duzen River.

Pre 1850 there were approximately 1500 to 2000 Wiyot people living within this area.

After 1860 there were an estimated population of 200 people left. By 1910 there was an estimate of less than 100 full blood Wiyot people living within Wiyot territory. This rapid decline in population was due to disease, slavery, target practice, "protection", and being herded from place to place, and of course, massacres.

Massacre:

Indian Island was and is the center of Wiyot world. On the island a ceremonial dance would be held to start the new year.

The ceremony may have been called the World Renewal ceremony. All people were welcomed, no one was turned away. The ceremony would continue for at least seven to ten days. It was held at the village site of Tutulwat on the northern part of the island. Traditionally the men would leave the island and return the next day with the days supplies. The elders, women and children were left to rest on the island along with a few men.

The massacre took place at such a ceremony in 1860. The leader of the Humboldt Bay Wiyots was a man named Captain Jim. He was the man who would organize and lead the ceremony to start a new year. Captain Jim welcomed all people, Indian and non-Indian alike.

On February 26, 1860,

several Eureka mean came to the island in the early morning after the ceremony was completed for the evening. They were armed with hatchets, clubs and knives. They left their guns behind so the noise would not be as great. this was not the only massacre that took place that night. Two other village sites were raided. One on the Eel River and another on the South Spit. Eighty to one hundred people or more were slain that night. A child, Jerry James (Captain Jim's son), survived.

click the image to see a large photo of Jerry James

The Wiyot people were decimated.

For their protection, the Wiyot people were corralled at Fort Humboldt. This was another California case of the Army protecting Indians from the violent and barbaric citizens...Then later some were herded to other Indian centers within California. However, they would keep returning to their homeland.

WIYOT People of today:

Jerry's son, Irving lives at Table Bluff.

He was born in 1900. (click color image to see a large photo of Irving) Lest we forget how recent this part of actual American History happens to be, Irving is only a few years older than the 1996 Republican candidate for president, Robert Dole.

Irving passed into the next world on Saturday, March 18th, 1999 at the age of 99. His services will be held on Thursday the 23rd at Goble's in Fortuna at 2:30 p.m.

Leona Seidner Wilkinson

Leona Seidner Wilkinson is a skilled Wiyot basketweaver

who works in materials from the remaining forests of the California northwest coastal lands, traditional Wiyot territory, She leads training in methods and meaning of the basketweaver's art. To see an original scan of the basket from which this page background was developed, click here. (large GIF file)


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