Citizens for Healing (C4H) is a local group of volunteers who came together to change the name of the town of Kelseyville to Konocti. The first C4H meeting was held in Pioneer Park in Kelseyville on October 12, 2020, Indigenous Peoples Day, and we have been meeting every month since then.
Our primary focus at the beginning was to make sure the name, Konocti, would be appropriate and acceptable to all the communities around the lake, especially the tribal nations in our county. Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (THPOs) from three different tribes attended our early meetings and taught us about the different languages of their people. Konocti is the name of the mountain in the language of the East Lake Tribe of Elem, the oldest existing tribe in the area. After a year of meeting we got approval from all five (seven?) tribes to use the name.
C4H began Zooming the monthly meetings during the pandemic and has continued to do so. When the weather was too extreme to hold community meetings outdoors, we had difficulty securing affordable indoor venues. Two tribes stepped up to provide us rent-free meeting space, the Habmatolel in Upper Lake (August 14, 2022) and the Elem in Clearlake Oaks (October 9, 2022).
The next important focus for C4H was outreach - to the press and to the community. A writer from the Press Democrat of Santa Rosa heard about our project and published a full feature story* on us, on the project, and on the opposing views of the name change. The editor of our local paper* responded to the piece. And we started submitting our own press releases for upcoming meetings and events*.
C4H decided to schedule the meetings in different locations around the county, in parks and other public venues, to gather support and get input from the community. Opponents attended the monthly meeting held on July 10, 2022, telling us they wanted to see tribal members at the meetings, to hear their stories, find out their position on the name change. Tribal Elders and members from four different tribes attended our meeting on August 14 th , 2022. They got up and spoke from their hearts. They said changing the name of the town would be a “gift to all the tribes.”
Misinformed by our local Registrar of Voters, a lot of C4H efforts were spent at first trying to prepare an initiative to put on the ballot. Two years into the process we learned that we needed to submit a proposal to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, the authority on names of places, and the arbitrator in making decisions on naming or renaming them.
Though we don’t have to prepare an initiative, the work required to propose a name change is similar to advancing a political agenda. We have already accomplished much of the work.