Reexamining Our Past Initiative

California State Parks is taking stock of and critically reexamining our past, looking specifically at contested place names, monuments, and interpretation in our State Parks. Data collected during a brief survey of park units in June 2020, made clear that State Parks must act to further identify and remove residual derogatory place names; inappropriate honorifics associated with the historical legacy of some of its monuments, statues and plaques; and inadequate interpretive programs or exhibits that fall short in fully contextualizing California’s history in parks.

State Parks’ Tribal Affairs Program will assist with the identification and redress of discriminatory names of concern to California Native American tribes. There will be opportunities for the public to participate in and comment on the department's efforts. Working with community partners and universities is fundamental to ensure that State Parks’ educational programs and exhibits support public educational standards and are grounded in contemporary research methodology.

Individuals interested in subscribing to updates on this important effort or who have a location that needs evaluation are asked to email the department at planning@parks.ca.gov.

Announcements

Sue-Meg State Park

agate beach

The California State Park and Recreation Commission voted to rename Patrick’s Point State Park to Sue-meg State Park to honor the place name used by the Yurok people since time immemorial. This is the first park name change as part of the state’s Reexamining Our Past Initiative and is a momentous step to heal relationships with Native Americans and working together in recognition and honor of indigenous cultural and linguistic relationships. Please view our press releases for more information:

Negro Bar

negro bar

State Parks is seeking public input on a new name for Negro Bar, located within the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, that will honor the contributions of African American miners at this historic site, while still remaining culturally appropriate.  Learn more at www.parks.ca.gov/NegroBar.

Humboldt Redwoods and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

founder's tree

Humboldt Redwoods and Prairie Creek Redwoods state parks have added new interpretive signage regarding the racist legacy of some of the parks’ founding members that are currently honored in the parks’ redwood groves. Learn more at www.parks.ca.gov/FoundersGrove.

A 1948 memorial honoring Madison Grant in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park has also been removed. The large stone monument was removed by an excavator during a small ceremony on June 15, 2021, attended by California State Parks and National Park Service leaders, history scholars, and representatives of the Yurok Tribe and Save the Redwoods League. The ceremony focused on both acknowledging the past while creating a more inclusive and equitable park system for the future. To learn more, read our press release.

Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park

santa cruz mission

Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park released a statement acknowledging the impact of the mission on California Native American people and their commitment to creating a more welcoming and healing space.

Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park

sutter's fort

Sutter's Fort State Historic Park released a statement acknowledging the fort’s role in sharing an unbalanced perspective of the 19th century and their commitment to working with California Native Americans to tell the whole story. Learn more at www.parks.ca.gov/SuttersFortHistory