Nancy and Matilda Spear: Wiyot Survival on the Lost Coast

Kathleen Whiteley
Native American Studies
UC Davis

Nancy and Matilda Spear were cousins who survived the “Indian Island” massacre perpetrated on the island of Tuluwat by settlers in 1860. This article connects Nancy and Matilda Spear’s historical legacy of survival with stories from three of their children nearly 50 years after the “Indian Island” massacre. By doing so, it illuminates the intergenerational work of fostering resilience and asserting affirmations of a Wiyot future in this historical homeland. Through its source base and concept work, this article respects the mission of Native American and Indigenous Studies to work with, by, and for Native peoples. It seeks to amplify untold stories from American Indian history and move California Indians from the margin to the center—not stopping at the history of American genocide but moving forward into their role as complicated agents struggling for their own future.