WIYOT CULTURAL HISTORY
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 Little River to Bear River 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 against the Wiyot people. Violent clashes along with exposure to foreign diseases such as smallpox nearly annihilated native people. The newcomers displaced the Wiyot and changed the landscape around Humboldt Bay. Marshy areas were drained and diked for cattle pasture, and railroads were built to take logs out to waiting ships. Towns grew and people used the bay and coast mainly as a transportation hub for industry.