Much-maligned, likeable Bill
I like Bill. Bill McKinley, that is, the guy who’s been hanging out in the Arcata Plaza since 1906. People who want him removed try to associate him with various crimes to which he is not connected. He should be removed, they tell us, because in the 1860s indigenous people were being sold in the Arcata Plaza. But in the 1860s young Bill was not selling slaves in Arcata. He was thousands of miles away, fighting to free slaves in the south. A staunch abolitionist, Bill joined the war as a private at the age of 18 and ended it a major.
George Zehndner, they go on to tell us, the man who paid for the statue actually indentured a seven-year-old native girl himself in 1860. I know nothing about George Zehndner, but I have taken a good look at the statue pedestal and I can confirm that the statue is of our man Bill, not George Zehndner.
Others argue that Bill does not belong in the Plaza because he had nothing to do with Humboldt County. I would point out that Alexander von Humboldt had nothing to do with Humboldt County either, but we have made him our own. Like von Humboldt, Bill has become one of us. At this year’s Oyster Festival, I spotted him cleverly disguised as Poseidon, god of the sea, complete with a flowing beard and trident.
A couple of weeks later at the Fairies Festival he carried a magic wand in his right hand. As Bill McKinley did in real life, his statue is always willing to help out. Our Bill has become a part of Arcata, as natural to the Plaza as the two beautiful—and not-at-all native—palm trees that tower so majestically behind him.
I’m voting yes on Measure M.
No on M and McKinley
I’m writing to urge Arcata residents to vote No on Measure M. As president, Wm. McKinley supported forced Indian assimilation by funding Indian schools including Hoopa Valley Indian School (1896-1946).
Children were forced to move away from their parents, forbidden from speaking their language, or practice their religion and cultural ceremonies. McKinley signed the Curtis Amendment in June 1898.
Millions of acres of land changed from Indigenous occupancy to white ownership. Indigenous people were required to improve the land for 25 years while white people gained title after only 5 years. The imperialism he supported was beneficial to U.S. sugar investors in Cuba and Hawaii because they no longer had to pay a 20 percent tariff on sugar. The removal of the statue for political reasons is less important to me than removing it to show respect for Indigenous People. Our founding “pioneer” stories don’t reflect the whole story. During the 25 years after the gold rush, California’s indigenous population was reduced by 80 percent. Vigilantes, individuals, local militias and the U.S. Army were willing participants in multiple indigenous massacres which added significantly to losses due to disease and starvation.
Bledsoe, in Indian Wars, pages 241-242, recounts a public meeting in Arcata where people called for “a war of extermination, total extermination, of every man, woman and child in whose veins coursed the blood of the Indian race.”
The California 1850 law titled Act for the Government and Protection of Indians allowed Indian slavery under the guise of indenture and apprenticeship. Vagrant Indians were required by law to have their uncompensated labor auctioned off to “the best bidder” within 24 hours by justice of the peace. Arcata was Humboldt County seat from 1850-1853. As “prisoners of war,” Indian children could be indentured or apprenticed. Wording of the Act seemed benign, but actual implementation led to the killing of parents to profit from selling the children. Benjamin Madley’s article, “Unholy Traffic in Human Blood and Souls” is available at the City of Arcata website and details information about Indian Baby Hunters.
Every Humboldt County Township in the 1860 census lists Indians living in a significant proportion of households. Some names in the census match some of the names in the indenture lists on pages 54-56 in Heizer, R. F. and A. J. Almquist, The Other Californians: Prejudice and Discrimination under Spain, Mexico, and the United States to 1920. University of California Press, 1971. In addition to the 1850 law, the California Supreme Court decision, People V Hall, Oct. 1, 1854, confirmed Section 14 of the law. “No Black, or Mulatto person, or Indian, shall be allowed to give evidence, in favor of, or against a white man.”
Removing the statue funded by wealth gained through land grabs, Indian killing and slavery allows recognition of a more complete history of early Humboldt County. Vote No on M and honor the Indigenous People who loved this land first.
The statue needs McKcontext
Sadly, the past is still with us in our current federal government and in much of the world. The “war on empathy” continues and “scapegoating” endures as a long human tradition. By burning, hanging or removing the scapegoat the people feel vindicated and relieved. The problem being that nothing changes. The predators and social Darwinists in our society are quite happy to see us scapegoating each other instead of making progress by honoring and respecting the people. If McKinley feels like a thorn, perhaps he is a thorn that we need to stimulate our comfortable righteousness. I would prefer an empty space in the middle of the Plaza, but perhaps the presence of that statue has importance.
The study of history reveals multiple layers of narratives (not the victor’s history) in contexts which we are far removed from. History should not be an intuitive practice but a scientific one. Its accuracy and value are dependent on original sources reviewed by multiple unconnected observers and severely critiqued. The process is no different than appreciating the science of climate change. Many climate change deniers are still using intuitive attitudes (i.e. God’s plan) for their position, to our collective peril.
The late 19th century was a time when the robber barons ruled, and corporations were given personhood. The King of England was thrown out in 1776 but America in 1898 had a hundred kings. The federal government served the industrialists and crushed and exploited workers to the limit. Rulers like Vanderbilt, Rockefeller and Carnegie played the tunes and Senators and Presidents danced. McKinley was no exception. Industrialists and their backers hoped that building markets abroad would solve overproduction and generate more profit.
The Curtis Act which was the third amendment to the Dawes act of 1887, would have taken effect even if McKinley did not sign it. (Congressional laws go into effect 10 days after passage regardless of signature.)
In 1898 the U.S. military censored all mail from its soldiers (even punishing soldiers for reporting the facts) in the Philippines and sequestered and expelled journalists in Manila. It took weeks for information to pass between Washington and Manila. Presidential orders to preserve life were defied by ex-Civil and Indian war generals some of whom were punitively relieved of command or court martialed (Otis and Smith). Philippine groups had hundreds of revolts crushed during the preceding 333 years of Spanish rule. Following the end of the Spanish American War and two years after the cruel five-month Philippine-American war, the U.S. Congress passed the Organic Act which established a bicameral Philippine legislature. In so doing we established a pattern of “nation building” following a questionable, yet (in the U.S.) enormously popular war. This pattern of thought and action is well entrenched in our government to this day.
In Hawaii in 1900 there were far more Japanese living on the islands than there were native Hawaiians. The Japanese government was becoming a major imperialist power intent on control of the Pacific.
Human progress comes in increments and history is not simple or black and white. When McKinley was president, Jim Crow, Asian Exclusion and misogynism were the rule of law. We cannot view the past exclusively with our current enlightenment. And yet those attitudes still sadly continue today.
Should McKinley be a symbol that vanishes while the reality of disenfranchisement and plunder thrive or should he be a learning tool to help citizens, officials and opinionators avoid the mistakes and horrors of the past and present?
Regardless of the outcome of the statue arguments, the folks who live in this community, as well as the tourists and other visitors to our area, should be prompted to begin to understand the local and U.S. history and its relationship to the background of state, national and world history.
We do not need hyperbole. We do need well documented and inclusive understanding. The peaceful Wiyot people of this area suffered greatly at the hands of predatory immigrants. Well-documented murderers with names like Larabee and Kelsey killed with abandon and their names still grace our creeks and towns. Peaceful indigenous people suffered discrimination and humiliation. We must not forget!
As Nanette Kelly, an Osage-Cherokee & NDN activist, wrote in a Feb. 28, 2018 opinion piece in the Mad River Union (accessible on the Union web page and worth rereading), “burying history is never a good idea... We don’t have the right to hide this president’s history any more than educational institutions have the right to hide Indian history. We are all part of both sides to this history, this history which happens to be repeating itself as I type.”
We need well-crafted interpretive historical signs (much better than bronze plaques) that describe the suffering and joy of the people. It is a history that should be written from both an indigenous and an immigrant perspective. It should be composed, edited and displayed in a prominent place in Arcata. Ideally the Plaza! If the statue stays, the words should be situated around the pedestal. If the statue goes, they should be placed in a prominent spot on the Plaza. Intial draft language for a nice sign next to the old guy.
“This statue by the marvelous sculptor Haig Patigan symbolizes all presidents, legislators, officials, and opinionators of the past and present who have not grasped the lessons of history and have supported profit making and thievery at the cost of millions innocent lives as well as the destruction of our environment. And to a public that is all too easily led by those who push their buttons of fear.”
Peace and Blessings to all,
Mayo’s the man for McK
Dennis Mayo has been an important member of the McKinleyville community for many years. His home-grown training has allowed him to see and understand the real needs of our area. There is no substitute for experience and he has more than most. His common-sense approach and problem-solving skills are evident to those who work with him.
I have been a member of our Humboldt County Community for over 45 years and have seen a number of elected officials come and go. Dennis is someone that I trust and respect. He is very involved in a number of community organizations and projects.
He is currently on the Board of Directors of the Redwood Region Economic Development Commission, started the MCSD No Drugs and Toxins Down the Drain committee and was a founding member of the Humboldt Open Door Clinic. Dennis is a local organic rancher and horse breeder. He also is very involved in the annual Pony Express Days celebration, McKinleyville Rodeo Association and the California State Grange.
Dennis is a hard worker and has earned the right to continue his quest to make this area a great place to live.
Please join me in voting for Dennis Mayo for the McKinleyville Community Services District Board of Directors. Thank you.
Dennis, a man of quality
I have known Dennis Mayo personally and professionally for almost 40 years. I am always impressed with his grounded and logical stands on local issues. He has the courage and the integrity to stand up for his beliefs, and his love of community is without question.
I got to know Dennis from the years that I worked at County Planning and then for the Board of Supervisors. He has valuable experience dealing with local, county and state issues, and he definitely does his homework!
I most admire and respect Dennis for his selfless volunteer work; and his enthusiasm, intelligence and dedication to important causes are phenomenal!
I proudly support the re-election of Dennis Mayo to the Board of Directors for the McKinleyville Community Services District.
Healthcare facts, figures
A recent forum of candidates for Eureka Mayor and Eureka Wards One, Three and Five held last week at the Labor Temple n Eureka revealed evidence of misinformation and ignorance on the subject of single-payer healthcare.
While discarding the idea of single payer one candidate said we need instead “something more like the VA.” The Veterans Administration is an example of socialized medicine—probably not what was meant. Another claimed that simply by making businesses prosper we would solve our healthcare crisis by helping employers afford to cover employees. There was the odd claim that “unions would be destroyed because with single payer there would be no reason to join.” An entirely wrong announcement was that “other countries lose 70% of their paychecks to their single-payers systems.” And finally, “We just can’t afford it.” All this points to a pressing need for public information on the concept of single payer.
Space constraint allows a quick response only to the question of cost: Jim Wood’s (our Assemblyman) Select Committee on Healthcare has informed us that California today is spending $400 billion a year on health care in the state. The State of California has determined that the cost of a universal healthcare system would also be $400 billion. The 90-page Pollin report from the University of Massachusetts (PERI, Political Economic Research Institute) finds that the cost of single-payer would be closer to $330 billion. Whatever the truth about cost turns out to be, it is clear that everyone could have access to high-quality health care tomorrow in California costing, at most, what we already spend today.
The recent four-page insert in the North Coast Journal (Sept. 5), “What If,” clarifies many single-payer questions. Written by doctors, administrators and healthcare advocates, it is compendium of relevant, and local information. It is available for free at North Town Books, HSU Olli Office, Health Sports, Arcata and the public library in Arcata and Eureka and Ramones on E street in Eureka. It is also available in Willow Creek at the two medical clinics, the public library and The Bead Lady.
Director, Health Care for All/PNHP—Humboldt Chapters
Where do the grads end up?
I appreciate this effort to encourage Humboldt County youth to consider a college education (“Get Ready Humboldt,” Union, Oct. 17).
I am the sole tenured faculty member in Rangeland Resources and Wildland Soils at Humboldt State University (in the Forestry & Wildland Resources Dept.)
Our Range & Soils students have been highly successful in obtaining federal Pathways internships as Rangeland Management Specialists. Our graduates hold key positions with U.S. Forest Service, BLM, Natural Resources Conservation Service in the local area. They have also started or are employed by numerous local businesses; Dirty Business, Samara Restoration, Deep Seeded Farms, etc.
Here is my question: Why doesn’t Humboldt State University perform a survey of graduates to discern where they end up? Such as location, employment in chosen field of study, etc. We did this through the Career Center when Barbara Peters was on staff, but to my knowledge, it has not been done since.
I attended a town hall meeting on campus last year where outside consultants included this as a recommendation.
Thanks for entertaining this question,
Susan Edinger Marshall, professor
Rangeland Resources and Wildland Soils
Forestry and Wildland Resources Department
I just finished watching the movie RBG (Ruth Bader Ginsburg) and I can’t help but juxtapose Kavanagh to Ms. Ginsburg. She grew up in a low-income, working-class neighborhood in New York. She worked in a factory to pay for her brother’s college. (In those days girls didn’t go to college.) During her college years her husband became sick so she attended class, took notes for both of them, took care of her ailing husband and young daughter and still graduated top of her class while being the first female member of the Harvard Law Review. She pleaded and won numerous cases before the Supreme Court. She fought for equal rights for both men and women.
Now contrast that with Mr. Kavanagh. He grew up the son of two lawyers in the Washington, D.C. area where he attended elite Georgetown Preparatory School. He graduated from Yale (where his paternal grandfather attended) with only academic distinctions. He was a lead author on the Ken Starr team that spent $70 million investigating Bill Clinton. He lost his single argument before the Supreme Court in the Swindler & Berlin v. US. where he asked the court to abandon attorney-client privilege. He was Staff Secretary and later Council to George W. Bush from 2001 to 2006. In that time we got The Patriot Act, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Abu Ghraib, the waterboarding controversy and Guantanamo. All of his legal history is about taking civil rights away.
While I agree that the Ford/Kavanagh testimony before the Senate is a “He said. She said.” scenario, the way he handled himself during his speech before the panel clearly showed his innermost feelings. His attitude towards his entitlement and how put upon he felt to be subjected to questions of his suitability was on full display. Clearly he is a member of the entitled class and an entitled Washington insider.
It was a foregone conclusion that he would get the appointment. The time limitations forced on the investigation (remind you of our 2000 elections?) and missing documents are clear proof. If you read the book Democracy in Chains by Nancy MacLean, an award-winning history teacher at Duke University, you will begin to grasp the whole picture. Kavanagh is just a small wheel in a much larger campaign to scuttle Democracy in lieu of full blown Capitalism. I honestly fear for my grandchildren and their rights as humans. I urge you to take a few minutes each day to read and talk to your children. Above all else, get out and vote in November.