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A Teachable Moment

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The dispute over the President McKinley statue has been a teaching moment. Who knew so much about him before the published letters over the removal of his statue! He was an abolitionist, said to have been a compassionate man, and fought against racial and religious bigotry. His assassination in 1901 is the reason his statue came to be at the Arcata Plaza.

Most people in Humboldt County know about the atrocities committed by many of the white settlers and the Army, such as the Gunther Island massacre and treatment of the Native people at Fort Humboldt. Slavery and the unjust treatment of the native peoples in the U.S is a sad testimonial to the thinking and politics of the times.

What is missing in these letters is information about the Wiyot way of life pre-contact. The Wiyot website has information about the tribe's history, community education, sacred sites and its Heritage Center. The Wiyot permanent village called "Kori" existed on the site of what in 1860 would become the town named "Arcata," derived from the Yurok term "oket'oh" meaning, "where there is a lagoon," according to Wikipedia.

Perhaps the money needed to remove the statue would be better spent on the creation of a memorial commemorating the Native peoples living in Arcata. The plaza could be re-designed and become like an outdoor history museum documenting or memorializing a more complete history of Arcata.

Carole Boshears, McKinleyville



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