Yesterday around 12:30 p.m people gathered at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Church in Bayside for a light lunch. They also planned to hear the words and wisdom from the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples on the history of Arcata’s Plaza and why people are calling for removal of the McKinley statue. Tia Oros Peters and her husband Chris Peters, were the keynote speakers.
“The plaza was a slave auction site and the place to barter and sell other items. One of the things that happened there was the trafficking of thousands of Indigenous people, primarily women and children.”
“You wonder why there is so much upset on the Plaza? It’s energy,” Mrs. Peters expressed.
Mrs. Peters discussed the importance of knowing the history of what has happened to the Native American population in Humboldt County. It may be easier for some to pretend that this history is so long ago and somehow irrelevant to current times. She reminded the audience to try to understand how recent that history really is and what it means for the Native American communities in Humboldt County present day.
“It hurts for me to even talk about,” Mrs. Peters said during her speech.
In addition to history of the Plaza and Arcata, the conversation soon focused upon the organizing efforts that have been happening to convince Arcata’s City Council to remove the statue of former president William McKinley from the plaza.
“Look at the history of McKinley and what he did to Indigenous People’s across the Pacific. These are people we want to honor? These are the people we want in the beating heart of the city center? Why would we do that?”
There is an opportunity at hand for Arcata to illustrate their commitment to social justice change in their community with the removal of the McKinley statue. Considering the atrocities that have been committed against Indigenous People in this region which paved the way for the Arcata that we see present day.
For white people who grew up in Arcata, many in the community have taken the removal of the statue out of context. Understandable, the statue is reminiscent and a staple of their childhood. Any understanding of history and colonization however, would allow one to understand without a doubt, what the message and goals for removing the McKinley statue are.
The mic was then turned over to the crowd for questions and feedback. Some relayed never hearing the information that was presented before that day. Some inquired on point of entry for those wanting to help and how to be a good ally.
“It was traumatic to discover the real history of this country.”
Support the Wiyot Tribe’s position and local Native Peoples to create positive change for Arcata and the region.
On February 21, 2018 there will be a rally from 5pm – 5:45pm and then people will walk collectively as Peoples for Peace, Justice, and Honor, to the Arcata City Council meeting to engage with council members in the discussion.
The City Council plans to vote about this matter at their city council meeting which begins at 6:00 p.m.