This article is a microhistory of not only the massacre of the indigenous Pomo people in Clear Lake, California, but also the memorialization of this event. It is an examination of two plaques marking the site of the Bloody Island massacre, exploring how memorial representations produce and silence historical memory of genocide under emerging and shifting historical narratives. A 1942 plaque is contextualized to show the co-option of the Pomo and massacre memory by an Anglo-American organization dedicated to settler memory. A 2005 plaque is read as a decentering of this narrative, guiding the viewer through a new hierarchy of memory and events. Overall this article unpacks the strategies of preservation, transformation, and reconciliation of genocide as it relates to the construction and shifts in emerging historical narratives, underscoring the interplay of physical locations in the construction of remembering and forgetting atrocious history.


The author is grateful to the two anonymous reviewers who strengthened this paper with their careful reading and accurate critiques, to Benjamin Madley who offered valuable feedback on an earlier draft of this paper, and to Jamie Lynnae for her nuanced edits and suggestions.