Ocean Night

Ocean Night featuring Tuluwat: Restoring a Culture with a presentation by Wiyot tribal members and staff and more...

Indian Island was home to two ancient villages; Tuluwat (” Toulouwat “) and Etpidolh (“Etpidalh Watpuroulh “). At Tuluwat, Wiyot held the annual “world renewal ceremony”, a dance lasting seven to ten days. The ground beneath Tuluwat, the Wiyot village, is an enormous clamshell mound (or midden). This mound, measuring over six acres in size and estimated to be over 1,000 years old, is an irreplaceable physical history of the Wiyot way of life. Contained within it are remnants of meals, tools, and ceremonies, as well as many burial sites. At the end of the 19th century, settlers built dikes and channels on the island. These modifications changed tidal action along the shore, resulting in erosion of the edge of the mound. Between 1913 and 1985, an estimated 2000 cubic yards of the shell mound were lost to erosion, which continues and seems to even be accelerating. In addition, the shell mound was the site of uncontrolled digging in the early part of the 20th century. One amateur archeologist was said to have looted as many as 500 of our gravesites. In addition, structures of the Tuluwat village that were still visible in 1913 are now gone, having been destroyed or carried away by wind and waves.

It is imperative to prevent further destruction of the mound. The planned restoration will eliminate continued erosion and looting while creating and enhancing wildlife habitat. As part of the survival of the Wiyot culture, the Wiyot Tribe established the Wiyot Sacred Site Fund to purchase back portions of Indian Island as they became available and other sites of religious and/or cultural significance for future generations and for those of today. The Wiyot people who have gone before us and those who are to come would like to invite you to contribute generously to the Wiyot Sacred Site Fund and help heal the past to make a dance for future generations to come. Through grassroots fundraising, and with the help of the community and individual donors, the Wiyot Tribe was able to purchase back 1.5 acres of the historic village site of Tuluwat on Indian Island in 2001.