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Sue-meg State Park

Photo by Kirt Edblom on Flickr

Skip Lowry learned the Indigenous dances of the Yurok people as a child by watching the elders gather in the summertime at a re-created village along the Humboldt County coast in Northern California.

The village, completed in 1990, was always a place of healing for Lowry, a Yurok descendant — but there was a lingering hurt there too. It’s in a state park that was named after a man accused of killing a Native American boy and committing other atrocities against Indigenous people in the 1800s.

“It’s always been a slap in my face and a punch in my stomach,” Lowry said.

But that changed Thursday when the California State Park and Recreation Commission took the unprecedented step of renaming the 625-acre park. The change, effective immediately, stripped the Patrick’s Point State Park moniker and restored its Indigenous Yurok name: Sue-meg.

The 5-0 vote marks the first time a California park was renamed as part of a statewide effort to identify and rectify derogatory names attached to parks and transportation systems, department officials... see more