On Monday February 12, 2018 the Tribal Council of the Wiyot Tribe voted unanimously to support the movement to remove the McKinley Statue, and the plaque near Jacoby store from the Arcata Plaza. The Wiyot Tribe was asked by The City of Arcata, Seventh Generation Fund, and a number of individual citizens to weigh in on the issue. A movement to the remove the statue and plaque began with citizens of Arcata who petitioned the Arcata City Council. More than 1400 people have signed an online petition to remove the statue and plaque. A number of community meetings have been organized to discuss the statue and plaque removal and possible replacement options. In their Council meeting February 12th, the Wiyot Tribal Council voted to support replacement of the statue and plaque with something that represents Wiyot culture and/history. The Wiyot Tribe Council asked to be included in future discussions.
While William McKinley was the 25th president of the United States, he had no local connection with Humboldt County or the City of Arcata. The eight-foot-tall bronze statue was a gift to the city of Arcata from local businessman George Zehnder in the early 1900’s. The Wiyot Tribe would like to acknowledge McKinley’s impact on Indigenous communities. McKinley supported the Dawes Commission, dismantling the Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, Seminole and Cherokee Tribal lands and checker boarding them into individual land allotments and designating “Surplus” lands and opening them up to white settlement. After failing to negotiate a treaty with the Aboriginal people of Hawaii, who were against annexation, McKinley was able to annex the State of Hawaii through a joint resolution of Congress calling it, “Manifest Destiny.” McKinley also refused to act when Leech Lake Ojibwe leaders petitioned him to intervene when Timber Companies encroached on Tribal lands to set grass fires and remove Timber from Tribal lands that the Ojibwe used for subsistence.