In September 2022, members of the Redwood CORE Hub joined key community and philanthropic partners for a three day tour of the Pacific Redwoods Region to learn about the ecology, history, climate, and resilience of the area. The following is a recap of some of the highlights from the tour.
Speakers: Victor Bjelajac, Superintendent, California State Parks, North Coast Redwoods District; Tayshu Bommelyn, Senior Program Officer, Native Cultures Fund; Pimm Tripp-Allen, Senior Advisor, Tribal and Native American Relations, HAF+WRCF
In Sep. 2021, the California State Parks renamed its Patrick’s Point State Park to Sue-meg State Park to honor the original place name for this area used by the Yurok people since time immemorial. California State Parks acquired the land in 1930 with the name Patrick’s Point already in use, referring to a homesteader who was accused of murdering numerous Native Americans.
Sue-Meg State Park is located within the ancestral lands of the Yurok people on the northern coast of California in Humboldt County, 26 miles north of Eureka, and houses the Sumêg Village. Referred to as a “living village,” Sumêg Village hosts houses, stools, canoes, and more built of redwood and used for traditional ceremonies of the Yurok Tribe, including the Brush and Flower dances.
The space and name change are testaments to the value of protecting Indigenous rights to land management and relationships that honor culture, knowledge sharing, and connection over transactional interactions. Park staff emphasized that the name change was done within the current policy structures of the California State Parks system, and encouraged others to use the name-change as inspiration for further work in this area to shift California State Park Policy and priorities in service of Indigenous cultures.