Column: Return all ancestral islands to Wiyot Tribe in California

A view of Indian Island in California. Photo by Ellin Beltz via Wikipedia

Writer calls on the return of Indian Island and other ancestral lands to the Wiyot Tribe in California:
The city of Eureka is considering a possible transfer of the city’s interest in Indian Island to the Wiyot people. A few years ago, after the Wiyot tribal government purchased their ancestral village (a former boatyard site) on the northeast end of Indian Island, the city of Eureka granted the Wiyot certain rights for the rest of Indian Island up to the Samoa Bridge boundary. However, the Wiyot historic ancestral home included not only the northeast end of Indian Island, but all three islands — Indian, Woodley and Daby Islands.

The city of Eureka controls most of the remainder of Indian Island and all of Daby Island. The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District holds title to the third island — Woodley Island. Only a little additional effort could result in Wiyot repatriation of all three of these islands. In return, it would be very beneficial to the City to be one part of a cooperative management team made up of the Wiyot tribal government, the city of Eureka, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

Why should these islands be managed cooperatively? Well to begin with, there are significant advantages for everyone involved. For the Wiyot tribal government, cooperative environmental management of these islands would continue the Wiyot tribe’s history of working collaboratively with environmental entities and agencies around the bay, including FWS and CDFW. For the city of Eureka, cooperative management with the tribal government could potentially allow the city to contribute to environmental mitigation work to offset future developments in other areas also within the city limits.

Get the Story:
Ken Bates: Islands ought to be returned to Wiyot in full (The Eureka Times-Standard 4/29)

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