Monday, 22 April 2024

Belanger: Rebuttal to commentary by Save the Name of Kelseyville Committee

Save the Name of Kelseyville Committee correctly acknowledges that the Citizens for Healing, or C4H, campaign “is based on the egregious and horrendous behavior towards the Native Americans of this valley by Andrew Kelsey.”

I agree with their statement that “It is best to educate about the history instead of trying to erase it.”

I thank the Save the Name of Kelseyville Committee for acknowledging that “The history of the Native Americans … is appreciated and respected. Their story is important …”

Are the people respected as well? How do we show this when the most evil person in their history is celebrated by naming the original inhabitants' former home after him after they were driven out? By learning more about this painful history we can move forward in the process of healing.

I appreciate the great job that the Kelseyville Business Association does, bringing five major festivals and the street dances to our town and how they have worked so diligently to build the brand of Kelseyville.

This is a beautiful town with lots of art, music, fine people and much camaraderie among those who live in the area. The town deserves a name that we can all be proud of.

Far from being an outlier group, there are many members of C4H and supporters that live in Kelseyville, though there are many throughout the county who also feel that the town’s namesake is thoroughly disgusting.

To say that no one condones Kelsey’s despicable behavior is ridiculous. For crying out loud, the town is named after him. Towns should not be named after hateful characters, and for good reason. Every time the person’s name is used their behavior is condoned, accepted and promoted.

There was a functioning Pomo community in this Valley until 1847 when Andy Kelsey and Charles Stone arrived and enslaved, starved, tortured, raped and murdered the local natives. The trauma caused by the treatment of these people continues to the present and needs to be addressed.

I agree that changing the name of Kelseyville will not change the past, but a new name changes the future.

They say that there will be no winners if the name is changed. Embracing the name change to Konocti is a win-win, bringing a beautiful name to the town and creating an environment where all can feel welcome and respected.

For more info on the history check out https://citizensforhealing.org/.

Verge Belanger is a member of Citizens for Healing. He lives in Upper Lake, California.

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