The Potawot Health Village is located in a coastal prairie that was once known as Gudinih. It was a low laying wetland that was dotted with stands of “willow, salmonberry, alder, spruce thickets and brush”. Potawot, the Wiyot Name for the Mad River, meandered along the northern boundary of this coastal prairie on its way to the ocean. During heavy rainfalls, the river overflowed its banks southward into the prairie.
Prior to 1850 there was a large bend in Potawot, which flowed within a half mile of the UIHS Health Village site. Four Wiyot villages were known to have existed on either side of the “big bend” in the river, and were within a mile of the Health Village. The names of the villages suggest the type of environment that existed in the area prior to the arrival of pioneers. Gudinih was a part of a district that was actively used and managed by Wiyot Indians. The area was noted as a feeding ground for elk, mountain lions, and grizzly bears, as well as a place for gathering of plants and food for fiber.
After Euro-American settlement, 40-acres here became the Naye-Ribeiro Farm, and was cultivated to produce grain and potatoes. In the 1920s, Danish dairy farmers grew clover and oats on the land. Cattle grazed the site until UIHS purchased the property in 1997.
For a self-guided tour, you can obtain a copy of the UIHS “Growing Healthy Communities” tour booklet which describes many features of the restoration area.