Should McKinleyville be renamed Dalhagali’?

Arguments echo Arcata's statue debate

Jack Durham
Mad River Union

McKINLEYVILLE – Across the United States, citizens are grappling with the nation’s history of racism by taking down statues of Confederates and calling for the names of military bases to be changed.

The movement has now come to McKinleyville, where some citizens are asking for a name change.

McKinleyville resident Kelley Garrett created an online petition last week requesting that the McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee ask the Board of Supervisor to put a referendum on the November ballot.

Kelley Garrett

As  of June 29, Garrett’s petition had garnered 554 signatures.

The petition is asking that the name be changed from McKinleyville, named after President William McKinley, to Dalhagali’, the area’s original Wiyot name, according to Garrett.

“What’s in a town name MCKINLEYVILLE?,” states the petition. “Named ‘McKinleyville’ at the turn of the 1900s thereby legitimizing active colonialism, condoning the genocide of indigenous people and exalting ‘Manifest Destiny.’ President McKinley’s actions were complicit in the genocide of indigenous people and his hand was instrumental in the stealing of Hawaii from the Hawaiian monarchy and native people.”

“Meanwhile, the history of thousands of years of continuous habitation of this place by the indigenous Wiyot people has been completely erased from the landscape and consciousness of most current town dwellers. A renaming of the town is merited,” states the petition.

The petition asks that the matter be brought before the McKMAC, the Board of Supervisors and ultimately the voters of McKinleyville.

The proposal received mixed reactions when it was posted on the McKinleyville Community Watch Facebook page. 

Some embraced the proposed change, saying it was overdue. Others lambasted the idea.

“Just leave it alone already!” stated one commenter. Others questioned the costs of changing signs and the names of stores and community institutions.

“Changing the name of the town isn’t going to resolve the issue of systemic racism. A name is a name... this should be the least of anyone’s concerns. Instead we should be focusing of equality, improving education and resources, voting, etc.,” wrote Kelsey Housden in the comments section.

While some commenters suggested that changing  the name was “erasing history,” Karin Glinden suggested that changing the name back to the original Wiyot place name was restoring history.

“The appropriate name to stop the erasing of history is to embrace the original historical name,” Glinden wrote on the comments section of the petition. “Let’s change the name back to Dalhagali’ and make our history transparent.”

The petition can be found at



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