Drakes Bay National Historic Landmark Dedication

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Date: October 12, 2016
Contact: John A. Dell'Osso, 415-464-5135

Point Reyes Station, CA — Nearly four decades before the settlement of Jamestown, Englishman Francis Drake navigated the Pacific Coast of California. In his attempt to return to England, he careened his ship and established a temporary encampment while repairs to the ship were made. The designation of the Drakes Bay Historic and Archeological District recognizes the historic and archeological evidence identifying Drakes Bay as the most likely site of Francis Drake's California Landing in 1579, signifying one of the earliest instances of European contact and interaction with the native peoples on the west coast, the Coast Miwok Indians. Sixteen years later, a storm grounded and sank a Manila Galleon, the San Agustin, in the bay, while her captain, Sebastião Rodrigues Soromenho (Sebastián Rodríguez Cermeño in Spanish), and his men watched helplessly from the shore.

On Saturday, October 22, 2016, at 11 am, the National Park Service will commemorate the designation of the Drakes Bay National Historic and Archaeological District through the unveiling of the National Historic Landmark plaque at Limantour Beach. With views of Drakes Bay and its commanding bluffs, the commemoration site evokes the character of the landscape that has prevailed for more than 400 years.

Superintendent of Point Reyes National Seashore Cicely Muldoon stated, "This is an important story. There are few places in the United States where it is possible to learn about this initial contact and its consequences."

Greg Sarris, Tribal Chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, said, "The story told on our side of this context is one of confusion. Our ancestors thought the dead were returning. Ironically, in time, future contact with the Europeans would bring much death to us. We might now tell the story of confusion as a lesson that will help all of us today navigate an increasingly complex and socially diverse world."

Edward Von der Porten, President of the Drake Navigators Guild, added that "the Guild's members are pleased that this official recognition of their sixty-seven years of research will enable the history of the Drake and Cermeño landings and the Coast Miwok Peoples interactions with the explorers to be interpreted effectively for the American public."

Join speakers from the National Park Service, the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, the Drake Navigators Guild, and others as we remember the significance of these encounters and what they mean to different cultural groups today in understanding our shared history.

Point Reyes National Seashore is the home of two National Historic Landmarks. The Point Reyes Marine Lifeboat Station and quarters preserves resources significant to the maritime history of the Pacific Coast and the United States Lifesaving Service. The Drakes Bay National Historic and Archaeological District was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2012 and protected in perpetuity within Point Reyes National Seashore.


Last updated: August 22, 2021

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