A dark day in Trinity County history is now recorded in granite and bronze at a site near Hayfork sacred to the Nor Rel Muk Wintu people.
The new plaque mounted on a large boulder relates the events of April 23, 1852, when an angry posse killed more than 150 people at a Wintu encampment in retaliation for the killing of a well-known rancher. Almost all of the dead were women and children. The event is known as the Bridge Gulch Massacre.
The setting is a beautiful one, at a site sacred to the Wintu even before the massacre along Bridge Gulch just upstream from a limestone arch called Natural Bridge.
The tribe provided the wording for the plaque which was unveiled last Saturday by the Nor Rel Muk band and members of E Clampus Vitus Trinitarianus Chapter 62 who worked together on the project in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service which manages the area.
Tribal members offered prayers and songs.
Jesi Naomi of Chico, who is Chimarico/Nor Rel Muk Wintu, shared a song “Bring us Here.” She said it had been “given” to her through spirits.
Clamper Chapter 62 Humbug Fred DeAntoni and Nor Rel Muk Tribal Chair John “Sonny” Hayward shared what the event means to them.
“The hope is we respect what happened here, memorialize what happened here, and celebrate trying to heal that,” DeAntoni said.
Hayward called this move to get the information out on what took place 167 years ago, “a big step in our lives.”
He told the Journal, “We’re hoping this instills respect in the people who come out here.”