Wiyot people have long lived around Wigi, or Humboldt Bay. This place was and still is, the center of their culture. For thousands of years, native people enjoyed the abundant and varied resources surrounding the bay. The Wiyot territory extends from Plhut Gasamuli (Little River) to Raski-yuwit (Bear River Ridge) and as far east as the prairies of Kneeland. Not long ago, Wiyot people used the dunes of the north and south spits to gather and hunt for what they needed in their daily lives, such as surf fish and various berries that were dried in the sun. Women would gather food and prepare weaving materials while the men would fish and make new tools to replace old ones.
By the mid-1800's, the quest for gold and timber brought settlers to the area seeking to make their fortune. Tragically, greed for land and resources led to brutal acts of violence and the attempted erasure of the Wiyot people. The unceded lands of the Wiyot were drastically manipulated and changed. Marshy areas were drained and diked for cattle pasture, and railroads were built along the bay. Remnants of the railroads can still be found today.
Today, Wiyot are actively recovering their culture; including language, traditional ecological knowledge, and ceremony. They continue to be the working stewards of the lands, waterways, air, plants, and animals of their ancestral homelands. Friends of the Dunes works with the Wiyot Tribe to restore the dune habitat in recognition, appreciation, and deep respect of their long held connections to the land and their ancestors.
For more information about the Wiyot Tribe, their cultural history and language visit www.wiyot.us.