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California Cultural and Historical Endowment project:
Wiyot Tribe Sacred Ground project

Speeding on Highway 255 north from Eureka toward the Samoa Peninsula on Humboldt Bay, today’s travelers are probably unaware of the National Historic Landmark status of the windswept, marshy island below.  Even though the ancient Wiyot Tribe inhabited the island for over a thousand years, only acres of tidal salt marsh, grassland, mud flats, trees, derelict buildings, and an old dock tell this peoples’ story from the highway today. For California’s Wiyot Tribe, the island is more than marsh, or even a landmark:  it is the site of the Wiyot’s Tuluwat Village, their “Center of the Wiyot World.”  The Wiyot’s rich and tragic past lies here among the marshes and a six-acre shell mound in the marshes known as “midden.” 

Aerial view of Indian Island.

CCHE reserves funding for sacred site

Now, after almost 150 years, thanks to the support of grant programs such as the California Cultural and Historical Endowment (CCHE), the Wiyot Tribe is well on its way to reclaiming their connection to the land and to their heritage on what is known as Indian Island.  In April 2006, the CCHE allocated $310,000 to assist with the restoration of Tuluwat Village on Indian Island.  In February 2007, the CCHE Board agreed to continue the project's funding so participants could complete the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirement.

Tuluwat Village’s restoration, which started with the tribe’s purchase of a small portion of the island, gained momentum in 2004 when the city of Eureka deeded several acres to the Wiyot Tribe. The tribe has also received grants and donations from state, federal and private sources to restore the village and to bring back the ecological balance of the island’s salt marshes. 

A world out of balance

For centuries, Tuluwat was home to the annual World Renewal Ceremony, a week of traditional dancing and celebration held each February.  As part of the celebration, the Wiyot people would ask the for the Creator’s blessings for the upcoming year - to bring the world back into balance. 

The World Renewal Ceremony on Indian Island ended disastrously one February night in 1860 when a few white settlers paddled to Indian Island and massacred the unsuspecting village inhabitants during their week of sacred ceremony.  The massacre halted the tribe’s ancient cultural practice on the island and severed the Wiyot's vital connection to their “Center of the World.”  

Tuluwat salt marsh with old buildings and dock.
[Photo courtesy of the Wiyot Tribe]

Restoring the balance and the village

The CCHE grant will help to preserve the past by funding the future Tuluwat Village Restoration.  Funds will be used to re-construct the dock, allowing for better access to the island, and for other features such as the construction of the World Renewal Ceremony dance area, a fire pit for outdoor activities, educational events, seating, pathways, and landscaping with native vegetation. 

Before that work begins, the first step to restoring Tuluwat is to clean up the site.  Now that a long awaited Environmental Impact Report for the Project has been approved, workers can remove some 17 cubic yards of soil, and clean less-contaminated soil from the old shipyard that was built on the sacred site (also known as Gunther Island) over a century ago.   

Confirmation of a culture

Hélène Rouvier, Wiyot Cultural Director and Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, explains the importance of the Tuluwat Village Restoration, and in particular of having the World Renewal Ceremony re-instituted on Indian Island after 150 years.  She describes it as a way of “re-connecting,” of confirming that the Wiyot are a living people who want to preserve their traditions and share them with others.  The CCHE Project will help achieve this goal by making it possible to bring not only Tribe members, but also school students and other visitors to the site to understand the significance of the Wiyot’s culture and heritage.  Rouvier states, "The story of the Wiyot Tribe’s experience on Indian Island is a part of California history, and our national history as well."                                        

For more information about the Tuluwat Village Restoration project, please contact Hélène Rouvier at (707) 733-5055.   

For more information about the California Cultural and Historical Endowment, please contact Executive Officer Diane Matsuda at (916) 651-8768 or email at

California Cultural and Historical Endowment Board convenes, reserves funding for round three

The California Cultural and Historical Endowment (CCHE) Board met August 22 and 23, 2007 at the California State Library in Sacramento to hear presentations from 50 grant applicants for CCHE’s third and final round of Proposition 40 Bond Funds.  The Board had $43 million of Proposition 40 funds available to award in this final round.

To ensure more equitable consideration of applications, CCHE categorized organizations into divisions based on their annual operating budget so that they would be able to compete amongst entities with similar budgets.  Also, two types of applications were accepted, Project Grants for which division groups could apply for funding between $25,000-$3,000,000 for capital projects, and Planning Grants, for which division groups could apply for funding between $10,000-$300,000 for planning activities related to capital projects.

At the conclusion of the 2-day meeting, the CCHE Board voted to award funding to 41 applicants for Project Grants, and 13 applicants for Planning Grants. 

The 41 Project Grants are: 

Project Applicant Funds Awarded County
Fiddletown Preservation Society, Inc.  $207,964.13  Amador
Dana Adobe Nipomo Amigos  $861,166.91  San Luis Obispo
Point Arena Lighthouse Keepers, Inc.  $1,209,375.00  Mendocino
Tahoe Maritime Museum  $266,722.34  Placer
Environmental Nature Center  $1,209,375.00  Orange
Sahm Fow Chinese Community, Inc.  $331,545.80  Yuba
Kennedy Mine Foundation $145,125.00 Amador
Fullerton Historic Theatre Foundation  $1,983,375.00  Orange
Project Restore  $1,935,000.00  Los Angeles
The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts  $1,935,000.00 Sacramento
Capital Unity Council  $1,451,250.00  Sacramento
American River Conservancy   $483,750.00 El Dorado
Crystal Cove Alliance   $1,451,250.00 Orange
Western Center Community Foundation 
dba Western Center for Archaeology & Paleontology  
$353,137.50 Riverside
The Berkeley Society for the Preservation of Traditional Music dba Freight & Salvage Coffee House  $1,161,000.00  Alameda
San Francisco Planning & Urban Research Association  $967,500.00 San Francisco
Discovery Science Center of Orange County $1,161,000.00 Orange
Zoological Society of San Diego $967,500.00 San Diego
Museum of Latin American Art  $1,239,367.50  Los Angeles
Pasadena Playhouse State Theatre of California, Inc. (PPST)  $967,500.00  Los Angeles
Autry National Center of the American West  $160,121.25  Los Angeles
California Academy of Sciences  $483,750.00  San Francisco
Kidspace: A Participatory Museum
dba Kidspace Children's Museum
 $1,741,500.00 Los Angeles
Crocker Art Museum Association   $483,750.00 Sacramento
Old Globe Theatre, dba The Old Globe  $1,635,075.00 San Diego
Museum Associates 
dba Los Angeles County Museum of Art
 $483,750.00  Los Angeles
San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department  $1,451,250.00  San Francisco
Parks and Community Services Department,
City of San Ramon 
$253,223.78  Contra Costa
City of San Dimas  $677,250.00  Los Angeles
City of Santa Rosa - Recreation and Parks Department  $822,375.00 Sonoma
Redevelopment Agency of the City of Santa Cruz  $1,935,000.00 Santa Cruz
City of Merced  $1,935,000.00  Merced
Oakland Redevelopment Agency $1,064,250.00 Alameda
City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs  $2,418,750.00 Los Angeles
City of Chowchilla  $698,723.66  Madera
City of Roseville  $725,625.00 Placer
City of Los Angeles, Department of Recreation and Parks  $1,451,250.00 Los Angeles
Port of San Luis Harbor District  $649,228.30 San Luis Obispo
San Bernardino County Museum  $1,935,000.00  San Bernardino
The City of Sutter Creek  $870,750.00  Amador
Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency $290,250.00 Sacramento

The 13 Planning Grants are:
Project Applicant  Funds Awarded County
Stanislaus County  $199,560.39  Stanislaus
Nevada County  $300,000.00 Nevada
Museum of the African Diaspora  $150,000.00  San Francisco
Friends of La Laguna  $50,000.00  Los Angeles
Petaluma Museum Association  $15,000.00  Sonoma
Friends, the Foundation of the California African American Museum  $200,000.00  Los Angeles
Pacific Locomotive Association, Inc  $50,000.00  Alameda
The Oakland Zoo  $300,000.00  Alameda
COPIA: The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts  $100,000.00  Napa
Port of San Francisco $200,000.00 San Francisco
City of Belvedere  $10,000.00  Marin
City of Soledad  $145,000.00  Monterey
City of Selma, Pioneer Village Commission   $30,000.00 Fresno

CCHE received 184 applications for the final funding round.  The total amount requested was approximately $214 million. 

Proposition 40 called for the creation of the California Cultural and Historical Endowment to support the "acquisition, development, preservation, and interpretation of buildings, structures, sites, places, and artifacts that preserve and demonstrate culturally significant aspects of California's History and for grants for these purposes.”  To carry out Proposition 40's mandate, CCHE has provided funding for over 160 planning and projects that fulfill the Agency’s goals and objectives.

For more information about the California Cultural and Historical Endowment, please contact Executive Officer Diane Matsuda at (916) 651-8768 or email at





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