The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously voted to change the name of the famous headland along the Northern California coast – Patrick’s Point – to Sue-meg Point. The change, which mirrors the 2021 name change of the State Park which holds the headlands, will now move to the U.S. Board of Geographic Names to officially document the new name.
In September 2021, The California State Park and Recreation Commission voted for a name change of Patrick’s Point State Park to Sue-meg State Park, honoring the history and culture of the Yurok Tribe who have historically tended to the land. The original name – Patrick’s Point – dates back to the mid-1800s in reference to a homesteader, Patrick Beegan, who was accused of murdering numerous Native Americans.
Some of the Humboldt County Supervisors were confused by the initiation of the vote to change the name, since the state park already had its name changed. In order to rename a geographic feature, the official change must be done at a federal level. The Board on Geographic Names, the federal entity responsible for the geographic name changes, recently voted to change the names of seven landmarks in Humboldt which used the word “squaw,” a term found to be derogatory towards Native American women.
“I feel a deep obligation to use my platform to ensure that our public lands and waters are accessible and welcoming. That starts with removing racist and derogatory names that have graced federal locations for far too long,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “I am grateful to the members of the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force and the Board on Geographic Names for their efforts to prioritize this important work. Together, we are showing why representation matters and charting a path for an inclusive America.”
This announcement marks a year of historic name changes in Northern California, honoring Native American tribes by renaming several popular destinations. In 2021, Squaw Valley was renamed Palisades Tahoe to eliminate the word deemed sexist and racist towards Native American women. Palisades’ new logo portrays an eagle, which pays homage to the Washoe Tribe.
Patrick’s Point State Park is located within the ancestral lands of the Yurok people, 26 miles north of Eureka and 46 miles south of Crescent City. Much of the unit is developed for public use. In addition to stunning natural features, the park includes Sumeg Village which was planned and built by Yurok people and dedicated in 1990. Sumeg Village’s redwood plank family houses, sweathouses, dance structure, and changing houses are used for cultural and education activities for area tribes, and as an interpretive center to help educate the public about Northwest California Native American cultures.