On April 7, Parks California hosted its first ParkSpeak of 2022 to celebrate the first tribally operated Visitor Center within the State Park system, which is The Stone Lagoon Visitor Center within Humboldt Lagoons State Park. The Visitor Center is unique in that it hosts interpreters of Indigenous heritage, employed by both the Yurok Tribe and California State Parks. The interpreters weave their unique perspectives and cultural knowledge into the story of Stone Lagoon’s history.
During ParkSpeak, special guests from the Yurok Tribe and California State Parks – North Coast Redwoods District joined us to celebrate the public opening of the Visitor Center and its joint operations agreement between California State Parks and the Yurok Tribe.
VOICES FROM THE YUROK TRIBE
During ParkSpeak, Chairman Joseph L. James of the Yurok Tribe shared the cultural and historic significance of indigenous stories and history in collaboration with California State Parks and partners.
“We’ve come a long way with the State,” said Chairman James. “Our ancestors would be proud of us today here. Highlighting the achievements that we are doing here today for our children. For future generations. It’s truly an honor and privilege to work with the State, and with that, I want to say thank you.”
Many members of the Yurok community shared their stories, including Dr. Walt Lara Sr., Chah-pekw descendant and ceremonial leader, and his daughter Dr. Kishan Lara-Cooper, Cultural Practitioner and Chah-pekw descendant. Both spoke to the history of the Yurok community and the struggles the tribe traditionally faced.
We also got to learn about the tribe’s connection to and the cultural significance of the California condor (Prey-go-neesh).
Yurok Wildlife Department Director Tiana Williams-Claussen shared that, in the Yurok worldview, Prey-go-neesh is one of the most sacred species. The bird is featured prominently in the Tribe’s creation story and performs an essential function in the White Deerskin Dance and Jump Dance.
FORGING COLLABORATIVE PARTNERSHIPS
Director of State Parks Armando Quintero noted this collaboration was forged through building partnerships and trust.
“Parks are about the world. Parks are about culture. What we are working on together here has been the result of a number of people, from the Yurok community and State Parks, becoming friends, having meals together, talking stories, sharing dreams, and thinking about a place we now call the Stone Lagoon Visitor’s center.”
We’re grateful that leaders from the Yurok Tribe and California State Parks – North Coast Redwoods District uplifted the voices and stories of Humboldt Lagoons State Park.
WATCH PARKSPEAK – HUMBOLDT LAGOONS STATE PARK
Did you miss our first ParkSpeak of 2022? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Rewatch every minute of this ParkSpeak below.
WHERE TO NEXT?
If you’re interested in past ParkSpeak virtual explorations, you can check them out below:
- Sumeg Village in Sue-meg State Park
- La Purisima Mission State Historic Park
- Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Remember to stay tuned and sign up for future ParkSpeak events at ParksCalifornia.org/ParkSpeak, and email Parks California to let us know which state park you want us to explore next. See you on our next adventure!