HSU Honors Wiyot Tribe Naming Student Center 'Gutswurrak'

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Humboldt State University will be honoring the Wiyot Tribe by naming its activities center the Gutswurrak (pronounced “guts-wuh-dock”) Student Activities Center.

Gutswurrak is the Wiyot word for "many people gather," it recognizes the importance of the space while honoring its location on ancestral Wiyot land.

"A request for the honor of such a naming was made by students and others who are part of the SAC Advisory Committee to re-imagine the activities and services offered in the Gutswurrak," HSU's press release states. "In Spring 2021, students participated in a survey about the naming of the Student Activities Center, and many students commented that it would be valuable to have a name that honors the land where HSU sits."

According to the release, various groups and individuals, including a linguist for the Wiyot Tribe, were consulted in the process on the name and they appreciated the meaning of the word – “gathering place” – and how it could be seen as reinforcing the idea of the facility as a place for the entire Lumberjack family.

The name will be formally added and celebrated next semester.

"HSU is located on traditional Wiyot land. HSU, in partnership with the College of the Redwoods, has adopted a formal land acknowledgment, which reads: 'We acknowledge that the land on which Humboldt State University is located is unceded territory of the Wiyot people who continue to live and thrive today. It is surrounded by the traditional, ancestral, and present homelands of several indigenous nations including the Hupa, Karuk, Mattole, Tolowa, Wailaki, and Yurok that make up Humboldt County,'" the press release states.

Editor's note: This story was updated with the correct translations of "gutswurrak," which means many people gather. In an email to the Journal, Lynnika Butler, a linguist for the Wiyot Tribe, said that Soulatluk has a very different grammatical structure from English, so it's not always possible for the Tribe to reconstruct an exact equivalent of an English word or phrase in Soulatluk. As Soulatluk begins to be used in more public spaces, the Wiyot Tribe would like to ensure that spellings, translations and pronunciations are conveyed as accurately as possible.

Read the full release below.
‘Gutswurrak’ - Wiyot Tribe Honors HSU With Name for Student Activities Center

Humboldt State University will soon update the name of its student union to the Gutswurrak Student Activities Center, adding the Wiyot word for “gathering place” to the facility’s name. The naming recognizes the importance of the space as well as HSU’s location on traditional Wiyot land.

The name will be formally added and celebrated at an event early in the Spring 2022 semester.

Gutswurrak is pronounced “guts-wuh-dock”. The name was suggested by members of the Wiyot Tribe led by Wiyot Tribal Chair Ted Hernandez.

A request for the honor of such a naming was made by students and others who are part of the SAC Advisory Committee to re-imagine the activities and services offered in the Gutswurrak. Three possible names were suggested. Numerous groups and individuals were involved in a consultative process on the name that was ultimately selected. They appreciated the meaning of the word – “gathering place” – and how it could be seen as reinforcing the idea of the facility as a place for the entire Lumberjack family.

Discussions about this type of naming go back at least two years, and students have shared many ideas. In Spring 2021, students participated in a survey about the naming of the Student Activities Center, and many students commented that it would be valuable to have a name that honors the land where HSU sits.

HSU is located on traditional Wiyot land. HSU, in partnership with the College of the Redwoods, has adopted a formal land acknowledgement, which reads: “We acknowledge that the land on which Humboldt State University is located is unceded territory of the Wiyot people who continue to live and thrive today. It is surrounded by the traditional, ancestral, and present homelands of several indigenous nations including the Hupa, Karuk, Mattole, Tolowa, Wailaki, and Yurok that make up Humboldt County.”

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