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Sue-Meg restored as name for Patrick's Point State Park in Humboldt County

 Maiya Rainer, Yurok Tribal member and State Park Interpreter at Sumeg Village, Patrick’s Point State Park.
California State Parks
Maiya Rainer, Yurok Tribal member and State Park Interpreter at Sue-Meg Village in the newly re-named Sue-Meg State Park

A new initiative to reconsider discriminatory names on public features in California has led to the renaming of Patrick’s Point State Park in Humboldt County. The park is now called Sue-Meg State Park. The name change comes at the request of the Yurok tribe.

The California State Parks Commission heard statements from Yurok Tribal members and advocates before deciding on the name change Wednesday. The park was named after Patrick Beegan in the mid-1800s, a homesteader who was accused of violence against Native Americans.

Rosie Clayburn, a Yurok tribal member, says the name change is important because for many years the Yurok language was suppressed by the US government. She says that even though the word Sue-Meg is small, the change has deep historical meaning.

“This decision, it spans history, it spans generations,” says Clayburn. “It reaches back and honors our ancestors and it honors the people who fought with their lives. But it also spans into the future.”

Another reason that this change is so meaningful is that many tribal members went to the park to visit the Sue-Meg village. The Sue Meg village is where healing ceremonies and brush dances were held. Many tribal members at the meeting said that visiting a park named after a man who murdered members of their family was disturbing.

Sue-Meg was the name that the Yurok tribe had for the area for thousands of years. In a press release, the tribe says they’re happy the park has been returned to its original name.

Sophia Prince is a reporter and producer for JPR News. She began as JPR’s 2021 summer intern through the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a BA in journalism and international studies.