WannbeKing Rob would be such a good steward of the land. Just look how well he’s done with his other properties, like the balloon tract in Old Town or the “dog ranch” in Somoa and several others that don’t have nicknames. If you look past the repeated arson, crossbow murder, robberies, drug use and transient encampments it’s almost as if the areas are pristine!!!! Imagine what he could do with the ancient village Tuluwat??? (gasp)
Rob Arkley said he doesn’t understand why there’s been so much backlash against his proposal to buy Indian Island from the city of Eureka instead of allowing the property to transfer to the Wiyot Tribe.
“I am stunned by this whole thing. I don’t get it,” he said, when reached by phone Tuesday at his Security National office in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Arkley said in the wake of his proposal, first made public during a morning talk radio spot on July 31, he, his family and his business have received threats.
“I don’t have anything against the Indians, the issue is access for the people and fair price,” he said.
Arkley said he’s mainly concerned about what public access to the island will be like if the land transfer goes through and about Eureka giving away valuable land when the city faces “limitless financial issues.”
“I want to know why they’re declaring it surplus land to begin with,” he said.
Indian Island, which the Wiyot people call Tuluwat, is the location of the ancient villages Tuluwat and Etpidolh. For generations, the yearly World Renewal Ceremony was held on the island until the massacre of Wiyot men, women, elders and children in 1860. The ceremony was held on the island again in 2014 after a 154-year hiatus.
“This is absolutely the equivalent of paying reparations, which is foolish,” Arkley said about the transfer.
He disagreed when asked if giving the island back would help right a historical wrong, calling it a “bogus argument.”
Since 2000 the tribe has been buying back private parcels of the island and in 2004 the city of Eureka transferred about 45 acres of the island to the tribe. In June, the Eureka City Council committed to moving forward negotiating an agreement to transfer the remaining 200 acres of land the city owns on the island to the Wiyot Tribe.
City manager Greg Sparks previously said the land is appraised at $200,000 and that the council hasn’t discussed Arkley’s offer.
“They’re talking about giving it away, you’ve got to be kidding me!” Arkley said. “That’s why I offered $500,000.”
He said that if his offer is taken up he will set up a charity, similar to how Friends of the Dunes operates, to provide stewardship to the land. Arkley also said it will remain open for public use like it is today. He said he doubted that the tribe would keep the island for public use outside of tribal members and that the tribe hasn’t conducted as much environmental and habitat restoration as they say.
“They’ve done a fraction of what they said they would do,” Arkley said.
According to the tribe’s website, over 60 tons of scrap metal and additional tons of garbage has been removed from the island, a brownsfield assessment and remediation plan was completed, erosion control was implemented and native plants have been planted.
“The tribe has invested more than $3 million in the direct cleanup and restoration project,” Wiyot tribal administrator Michelle Vassel wrote in an email to the Times-Standard on Wednesday. “That number does not include the blood, sweat and tears of countless volunteers who have lent their hands to the project, and the countless hours of fundraisers, grant writing and administrative work managing the project.”
She said the tribe’s plan for the island has remained the same over the past 50 years.
“This includes clean up of environmental hazards, restoration of wildlife habitat. It also includes protection of grave sites, cultural resources, return of ceremony and living Wiyot cultural practices to the Island,” Vassel wrote.
She added that is not about exclusionary practices.
“The Wiyot Tribe is a government which by nature is a public not private entity,” she wrote. “The tribe has no intention of excluding people, we have worked long and hard with the city of Eureka and other government agencies local native and non-native, people and organizations in this community to come together to work toward these goals.”
Vassel asserts that what the tribe is doing benefits everyone.
“The work the tribe has done and plans to do on the island benefits the whole community,” she wrote. “In ceremony, we do not pray only for Wiyot people we pay for all people, really the whole world.”