In an act of genocide on a small tribe, the Wiyot Massacre took place on February 26, 1860. (Smaller attacks on the Wiyot tribe took place later that week.)For at least 1,000 years, the tribe had lived off the northern coast of California on what is now called Indian Island. The peaceful Wiyot had just completed their annual world renewal ceremony, marking the start of their new year.The men were out gathering supplies when a small group of white men crossed Humboldt Bay and slaughtered women, children, and the elderly. From 60 to 200 people died.The local sheriff lied, citing revenge for cattle rustling as the reason. In reality, a local militia wished to be federally recognized as a state militia to receive money from the government. The militia leader believed that massacring local tribes would accomplish that goal, but it didn’t work.
Photo credit: Ellin Beltz