A view of Indian Island in California. Photo: Ellin Beltz

Wiyot Tribe questions attempt to buy ancestral island that was site of massacre

Controversy has erupted over an attempt by a non-Indian business owner to buy a large portion of Indian Island in California.

The Wiyot Tribe lived on the island and performed its most important ceremony there until a massacre on February 26, 1860. The entire population was nearly wiped out.

The tribe has been slowly reclaiming portions of the island with the help of the city of Eureka. There also have been major cleanup and preservation efforts.

But Rob Arkley, the owner of the real estate company, doesn't want to see the final 200 acres of city-owned property returned to the tribe. He's offered to pay $500,000 for it, under the guises of keeping it open to the public.

“I don’t have anything against the Indians, the issue is access for the people and fair price,” Arkley told The Eureka Times-Standard in his first extensive comments about the issue since he made his offer on a talk radio show on July 31.

“They want to give away Indian Island to the In- to the Wiyots,” Arkley said on the show, The Lost Coast Outpost reported. “Well I use Indian Island. I like it. My kids do.”

Comments like those have drawn questions from the Wiyot Tribe, whose leaders reached an agreement in July to move forward with the acquisition of the 200 acres. They are hoping the city doesn't take up Arkley's offer.

“It’s a place of worship to us,” Chairman Ted Hernandez said of Indian Island at a city council meeting last month, The Times-Standard reported. He also issued a statement, thanking the city for working with the tribe.

There is no indication the city is considering Arkley's offer. According to The Times-Standard, the land has been appraised for $200,000.

"While Mr. Arkley may feel the island belongs to him and his children, because, as he stated, they 'like it,' it was stolen from the Wiyot in a horrific, murderous rampage," the Tsurai Ancestral Society, a group of citizens of the Yurok Tribe, said in a press release posted by The Lost Coast Outpost.

Read More on the Story:
Arkley responds to backlash over offer to buy Indian Island (The Eureka Times-Standard August 9, 2017)

An Opinion:
Cutcha Risling Baldy: Don't Live in a Murder House (The North Coast Journal August 10, 2017)

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