California parks authorities voted Thursday to rename a popular park in northern California to include its traditional name Yurok after a request from the state’s largest tribe.
The State Parks and Recreation Commission unanimously voted to change the name of Patrick’s Point State Park to Sue-meg State Park after hearing testimony from tribal chiefs about the site’s cultural significance.
Until the pandemic struck, the Yurok families held annual paintbrush dances at Sue-meg village, a site within the park’s current boundaries, attended by hundreds of tribal members, President Joseph said. L. James to the commission.
“This truly historic decision represents a turning point in the relationship between tribes and the state,” he said. “I am so happy that Sue-meg is now referred to by her correct name.”
Sue-meg Village is located on a prominent bluff in Humboldt County on the northern California coast, approximately 40 kilometers north of Eureka. The village was recreated and built by the Yurok over 30 years ago and includes family houses made of redwood planks, sweat houses, a dance structure and changing rooms used for cultural and educational activities of the tribes of the region.
The park’s former namesake, a homesteader named Patrick Beegan, has been charged with the murder of several Native Americans, according to the state parks agency. The Yurok were victims of violence and exploitation when settlers moved to the area during the Gold Rush of the 1850s.
The Yurok Tribe is the largest tribe in California with over 6,300 members. Its ancestral territory includes more than 7% of the California coastline, stretching from Little River to the south and Damnation Creek to the north.