Monday, January 10, 2005

Coming Home: Welcome

By the time they paddled across Humboldt Bay it was afternoon. The thin veils of mist hovering near the surface of the water had dissipated. In the deep blue sky only low wisps of white clouds floated in the distance across the forested mountains. It was the first sunny day after weeks of gray summer clouds. The waters were calm.

In fact, the boats made surprising progress. "We didn't know how easy it was going to be," Julian Lang said. "We thought it was going to be really hard, but those canoes just took to the water. So we were half an hour early."

They also put in at a different dock than many on shore expected. When the canoes glided past the place where the crowd had gathered, many ran along the shore to the right dock, getting doused by the Adorni Center sprinklers.

Cheryl was then escorted to the building by a group of young women from the various tribes, in traditional regalia. They sang a welcoming song. Peter La Vallee, the Mayor of Eureka also welcomed Cheryl, and Julian Lang spoke briefly. "People have come here today from the Hupa tribe, the Yurok tribe, the Karuk tribe, the Tolowa tribe as well as the Wiyot tribe---all these different tribes are represented because we are one kind of people: we are 'fix the earth' people. That's our job as human beings." (As Julian noted later, these were also the tribes most likely to have sent participants to the Wiyot "world renewal" ceremony on Indian Island, even when it was last held the night before the massacre.)

There were Indian representatives from other places as well. Cheryl said later that she had been particularly impressed by the delegation from the Redding Rancheria. "I found that very heartening that they came from a couple of counties away," she said.

Before everyone went into the building, Julian had the crowd repeat the Wiyot name for Eureka: CuruCiCi.

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