Mad River Union
McKINLEYVILLE – While Arcata has spent a good part of the year quarreling over the legacy of President William McKinley and his bronze statue on the Plaza, McKinleyville has been mostly mum regarding its namesake.
But at a May 30 meeting of the McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee (McKMAC), resident Linda Evans suggested that the town change its name.
Evans suggested to the committee that McKinleyville’s name be changed to a Native American name. In an interview, Evans said that local tribes should be consulted and have a say in changing the town’s name.
Some opponents of the McKinley statue in Arcata have portrayed the 25th president as a racist, a symbol of white supremacy and emblematic of the Native American genocide.
Although Evans didn’t bring up racism as a reason for changing the town’s name, she said “I think it certainly would be on some people’s minds.”
“I never really saw the relevance of having that [McKinleyville] be the name of the community,” Evans said.
McKinley never visited the North Coast and has no connection to the area.
According to the website of the McKinleyville Community Services District, the town was called Dow’s Prairie by white settlers. Isaac Minor came to town and built a store and a lodge. After William McKinley became president in 1897, townsfolk decided to call the place McKinleyville.
Then they had a change of heart and decided to call it Minorville, after Isaac Minor. Then, when McKinley was assassinated in 1901, they decided to go back to calling it McKinleyville.
Evans made her comments to the McKMAC during the public comments portion of the agenda and the committee did not discuss her proposal.