Wiyot tribal members Ted Hernandez and Cheryl Seidner celebrate today’s historic events

It’s done. After nearly 160 years Tuluwat is back in the hands of the Wiyot Tribe. 

The transfer took place after a unanimous Eureka City Council vote Monday morning during an emotional standing room only ceremony at the Adorni Center. To close out the proceedings, Wiyot Tribal Chairman Ted Hernandez and Eureka Mayor Susan Seaman both signed a deed of trust to make the handoff official. With that, over 200 acres of land stolen following the Feb. 26, 1860 massacre of over 200 Wiyot people by white settlers — land considered to be the spiritual center of the Wiyot culture — has been returned to it’s rightful owners. 

Monday’s event featured numerous speeches from local leaders and songs and dances from Wiyot Tribal members. The Outpost was on hand and took a few photos. 

Seidner addresses the council during a public comment period and thanks those in attendance. 

Outgoing Eureka City Manager Greg Sparks read a statement from Eureka City Councilmember Natalie Arroyo who is away on active duty for the U.S. Coast Guard 

Local leaders including Wiyot Tribe and City of Eureka officials

Wiyot brush dancers perform during ceremonial songs

Cutcha Risling Baldy, chair of the Humboldt State University’s Native American Studies Department on Tuluwat as a source of world renewal: “I know that the story of Tuluwat — which people often refer to as Indian Island — is one of a massacre for most people. But for me it has always been a place of world renewal. It had never really been just about what had happened there, but what was going to happen and what people knew one day would come back.”  

A chair was reserved for Wiyot Tribal members killed during the 1860 massacre

Former Eureka Mayor Frank Jager reads an apology to the Wiyot people. He also called on the council to designate Feb. 26 as a day of mourning in memory of those killed during the 1860 massacre. 

Wiyot Tribal Chairman Ted Hernandez thanks individuals who worked to make the island’s transfer possible.

Hernandez and Eureka Mayor Susan Seaman sign a deed of trust making the island’s transfer official.