Associated Press

EUREKA, Calif. — California parks authorities voted Thursday to rename a popular park in Northern California to include its traditional Yurok name after a request from the state’s largest tribe.

The state Parks and Recreation Commission voted unanimously to change the name from Patrick's Point State Park to Sue-meg State Park after hearing testimony from tribal leaders about the cultural importance of the site.

Until the pandemic struck, Yurok families held brush dances at Sue-meg Village, a site within the current park boundaries, every year that was attended by hundreds of tribal citizens, Chairman Joseph L. James told the commission.

“This genuinely historic decision represents a turning point in the relationship between tribes and the state," he said. "I’m so glad that Sue-meg will now be referred to by its correct name.”

Sue-meg Village is on a prominent bluff in Humboldt County, on the far Northern California coast about 25 miles north of Eureka. The village was recreated and built by the Yurok more than 30 years ago and includes redwood plank family houses, sweat houses, a dance structure and changing houses that are used for cultural and education activities for area tribes.

The park’s former namesake, a homesteader named Patrick Beegan, was accused of murdering multiple Native Americans, according to the state parks agency. The Yurok were subject to violence and exploitation as settlers moved into the area during the Gold Rush of the 1850s.

The Yurok Tribe is the largest tribe in California with more than 6,300 citizens. Its ancestral territory comprises more than 7 percent of the California coastline, spanning from the Little River to the south and Damnation Creek to the north.

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