A state park formerly known as Patrick's Point in Humboldt County has been renamed and will now be known by its indigenous Yurok name, Sue-Meg. It's part of a statewide effort to identify and change derogatory names attached to parks and transportation systems.
In an interview for "LA Times Today," host Lisa McRee spoke to staff writer Lila Seidman and Skip Lowry, a Yurok descendant and community organizer.
According to Lowry, Sue-Meg has been associated with the existence of the Yurok Tribe for thousands of years.
"We believe our existence was purposefully designed to create a sustainable balance between humans and their place. And Sue-Meg is a testimony to that. This place has been a place where communities gathered to harvest when the ocean says, 'I'm ready for you to take what I can give you.' And respectfully, they did that there," Lowry said.
For Lowry, this piece of land has had a lot of meaning to his life since he was a child.
"In 1990, I was 10 years old when this village was reconstructed, officially grand opening. And I sat next to the dance house and watched the elders dance. And I learned from the people in the community who gathered around to protect the future. This dance was about healing a baby in our community and protecting it with love and compassion because we know that they are the future," said Lowry.
"LA Times" staff writer Lila Seidman wrote the story and said the park's old name had been offensive for decades.
"So, looming over this sacred place for the Yurok people is the name Patrick's Point. It was named after an Irish settler, Patrick Beegan, who arrived in the 1850s and built a ranch there. During his time there, based on what the Yurok people and the State Park Commission said during the meeting is that he was accused of not only murdering a Native American boy but other atrocities," said Seidman.
The name Sue-Meg has different meanings for indigenous people, but for the Yurok people, it means "always there."
"There are a lot of different understandings of where Sue-Meg came from. It was a place out on the ocean, a rock that was sometimes above the tide and sometimes below. It would surface and submerge, but it's always there. So, our people have always been here, and the oppression of colonization might have kind of submerged us, but we are resurfacing now, and our strength is significant to the longevity and sustainability of humanity in this geographic location," added Lowry.
As this park has been renamed, Lowry says he is hopeful for his children's future and the next generation of indigenous people.
"My boys are going to understand this happened. They're going to be able to tell the story that their father and his community acted on the influence of a legacy of resistance movements' people to continue something that has an immemorial connection to a specific geographic location. So, their kids don't have to deal with the pain that I dealt with,” he said.
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