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Monday, March 13, 2006

Wiyot hold vigil in memory of 1860 massacre

From Indian Country Today.

Wiyot heal their 'center of the world'
Posted: March 13, 2006
by: Wendy Kull / Today correspondent
EUREKA, Calif. - Each year, the Wiyot Tribe holds an annual candlelight vigil to remember those who lost their lives in the 1860 massacre on Indian Island, located in Humboldt Bay. The Wiyot people have held the vigil for 15 years, with members of the community and others from surrounding tribes in attendance. With solemn prayers, poems and song, it is a time of healing for all people in the area.

The massacre took place on Feb. 26, 1860, when settlers from Eureka, armed with clubs, hatchets and knives, paddled a boat quietly through the early morning hours to the island, which is the center of the Wiyot world. Hundreds of slumbering people were murdered, mostly elders, women and children.

At that particular time, the Wiyot were in the midst of their World Renewal Ceremony, which lasts about 10 days. Most of the men had left to collect supplies for the others in order to finish the ceremony. Two other Wiyot massacres also occurred that day, one at the South Spit of Humboldt Bay and another at the mouth of the Eel River.

Wiyot Chairman Cheryl Seidner, of the Table Bluff Reservation, is the great-great-granddaughter of Jerry James, the lone surviving infant of the island massacre. One of the purposes behind the annual vigil is to bring to light the fact ''that there was no justice for their deaths,'' said Seidner. complete article

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