STOP! Chah-pekw O’Ket’-toh Now Home to California’s First Tribal State Park Visitor Center | Lost Coast Outpost


Yesterday, the Yurok Tribe, in partnership with California State Parks, Parks California and Redwood National Park, celebrated the grand opening of the newly renovated and renamed Chah-pekw O’ Ket’-toh “Stone Lagoon” Visitor Center, the first Visitor center operated by the Visitor Center tribe within the State Park system.

More than 150 state and tribal park officials as well as state and federal congressmen and agency representatives traveled to Yurok Country to witness the special celebration. Broadcast by Parks California, the live-streamed portion of the event included commentary from the tribe, California State Parks and Redwood National Park, and Yurok alumni who informed viewers of the unique relationship. of the tribe with the coastal lagoon.

“Restoring our role as stewards of Chah-pekw O’Ket’-toh is an important step toward healing our people,” said Joseph L. James, Chairman of the Yurok Tribe. “We are extremely proud to be the first tribe in California to operate a visitor center as part of the state park system. It is humbling to know that this precedent sets the stage for many other tribes to follow suit. I would like to thank North Coast Redwoods State Park for taking the time to establish a reciprocal relationship with the tribe and taking steps to right a historic wrong.

“I hope that public land managers throughout California and across the United States will use the state park-tribal partnership as a model for building strong working relationships with sovereign tribal nations in their areas,” added California State Parks Superintendent, North Coast Redwoods, Victor. Bjelajac. “Our partnership on the visitor center, renaming Sue-meg State Park, and condor restoration projects are just the beginning. I know we will be embarking on many other equally exciting endeavors in the not so distant future.

Run by Yurok’s Director of Cultural Resources and Tribal Heritage Preservation Officer, Rosie Clayburn, the Chahpekw O’ Ket’-toh “Stone Lagoon” Visitor Center now contains a multitude of digital and conventional displays that reflect the tribe’s longstanding cultural connection to the lagoon. The tribe and the park have hired yurok interpreters to share the tribe’s history from pre-contact to modern times.

“Visitors have the opportunity to learn about the tribe from Yurok citizens,” Clayburn said.

For countless generations, Yurok families have occupied several villages, such as Chah-pekw and Cho-chkwee, near the coastal lagoon. The inhabitants of the villages lived in relative peace until the California Gold Rush, when European settlers attempted genocide against the tribe and neighboring Indigenous nations. The tribe endured several devastating atrocities during this tumultuous time, but the Yurok people were never expelled from the region. In fact, many contemporary Yurok citizens are descendants of Chah-pekw and Cho-kwee villagers who survived the Native American Holocaust. One of the descendants, Sherri Provolt, a member of the Yurok Tribal Council, helped broker the deal that paved the way for the tribe to operate the Chah-pekw O’Ket’-toh Visitor Center.

“It really feels good to be back in our rightful place as the primary caretaker of Shah-pekw O’Ket’-toh,” said Tribal Council member Provolt. “I know our ancestors would be proud that we were making positive changes for future generations of Yurok and Natives across the state.”

The tribe is also making progress in other major areas. The upcoming reintroduction of the California condor was also recognized at today’s event. Later this month, the Yurok Tribe and Redwood State Park plan to release the first four condors to take flight in the area since the late 1800s. The Northern California Condor Restoration Program, consisting of biologists and technicians from Tribe and Redwood National Park, will manage the new herd. A more detailed announcement will be made when the release date is finalized.

Since 2008, the tribe has been laying the groundwork to reintroduce condors to Yurok country. With support from Redwood National Park, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Administration for Native Americans, as well as the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Pacific Gas and Electric, and many other contributors, such as the Global Conservation Fund, the Yurok Wildlife Department has completed the enormous amount of work needed to reintroduce critically endangered species. The following tasks represent a small fraction of what they had to accomplish to make the reintroduction of the condor a reality: thorough environmental assessments, contaminant analyzes, constant fundraising, planning, design and construction of facilities, carrying out intensive community outreach and coordination with many stakeholders and collaborators. .

In the Yurok worldview, Prey-go-neesh (condor) is one of the most sacred species. The bird figures prominently in the tribe’s creation story and serves an essential function in the white buckskin dance and jump dance.

“The purpose of the Jump Dance and the White Deerskin Dance is to bring balance to the world. Our condor restoration work is a representation of this sacred obligation. Through the reintroduction of the condor, we are correcting an imbalance in the world nature and restore an essential part of our culture,” concluded President James.

As a statutory partner of California State Parks, Parks California’s mission is to help strengthen the parks and inspire everyone to discover these extraordinary places.

The Yurok Tribe is the largest tribe in California with over 6,300 members. The tribe’s ancestral territory comprises 7.5% of the California coastline, stretching from Little River in the south and Damnation Creek in the north. The eastern boundary is the confluence of the Klamath River with the Trinity River. The tribe is a leader in natural resource management, fisheries restoration and cultural protection.


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