History of Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park

Reexamining Our Past

Like a number of historic sites in California, Sutter’s Fort has nominally shared the complex, and often disturbing 19th century history of California with its often deadly consequences for California Native Americans. The failure to fully incorporate that history in the park's interpretation programs has led to an unbalanced perspective about John Sutter and his legacy, along with that of other settlers. The near-exclusion of California Native Americans' lived experiences in this story also has led to a failure to acknowledge how this historic site represents a painful reminder of that history to their descendants.

State Parks embraces calls for fundamental change and looks forward to telling a broader, more inclusive story of Sutter’s Fort in consultation with California Native Americans, as well as through engagement with park partners, stakeholders, and the public. 

Through this public process, the department will develop a new interpretation master plan, exhibit plans, and updated educational materials for student programs. This effort will include an evaluation of visitation trends, interpretive programming demand, and ways to diversifying and expand visitation.

No permanent changes or final decisions have been made as part of this evaluation of interpretation at Sutter’s Fort. If you are interested in participating and providing your input in this process, and would like to be added to a notification list, please email Capital District Superintendent John Fraser at John.Fraser@parks.ca.gov.

Thank you for your interest, dedication and contributions to Sutter’s Fort and California’s rich history.