As the Wiyot Tribe prepares for the return of one tradition, another one ends this weekend.
On Saturday, the tribe will host its final candlelight vigil to remember the victims of the 1860 Indian Island massacre -- a night attack on the tribe's ancestors by a group of white Eurekans who slaughtered 200 sleeping tribe members, interrupting the Wiyot's three-day World Renewal Ceremony.
The ceremony hasn't been completed since, but the tribe plans to restore the practice in late March.
"Since we opened up Indian Island, we won't have the vigils anymore, just the dances involved in the ceremony," said Brian Mead, vice chairman of the Wiyot Tribe. "I think it's a good thing, now we're moving forward."
The tribe's cultural director, Thomas Torma, said he moved to the area last June and attending this last vigil is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
"It's the most exciting professional development I've had in my life," Torma said.
Marlon Sherman, chair of Native American Studies at Humboldt State University, has attended several past vigils. He said that in a sense, it's kind of sad to see the vigil go because it serves a very useful purpose.
"Vigils help the general public to remember," Sherman said, "They're an educational tool, but this last one is also exciting. It means the tribe is moving on to their next step."
The vigil is open to enrolled members and supporters of the Wiyot Tribe and the public.
If you go:
What: Wiyot Tribe holds its last annual candlelight vigil
When: 5 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 22
Where: Woodley Island Marina
Jillian Singh can be reached at 441-0509 or firstname.lastname@example.org