The Queen of California Returns, and Other Forgotten California History

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A new mural in Eureka honors its lost Chinatown. (Hector Arzate)

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The Return of California's Namesake, Queen Calafia

California was likely named for a character in an early 16th century Spanish novel. Queen Calafia was a mythical Black warrior who ruled an island of Amazon women, and commanded an army of griffins. She is said to have worn armor made of fish bones, and used weapons made of gold. Most Californians don’t know this origin story, but a Bay Area theater company hopes to change that. Azul Dahlstrom-Eckman tells us about a performance welcoming Queen Calafia back to the state after a 500 year absence.  

Remembering Eureka's Lost Chinatown

Early Chinese immigrants played a crucial role in shaping California as we know it today. In the 1860s, Chinese laborers built railroads and roads and set up businesses all throughout the West. But just a few decades later, anti-Chinese racism forced many of those folks out of the communities they helped establish. In Humboldt County, the forcible removal of Chinese immigrants is a story that's almost been erased. Héctor Arzate talks with Sasha about a new effort to resurface that painful past, starting with a mural in what was Eureka’s historic Chinatown.

How Taco Bell Inspired a Concerto about California’s Colonial History

Bells feature prominently in Gabriela Ortiz’ new concerto for flute and orchestra inspired by El Camino Real—the Spanish colonists’ name for the ancient byway dotted with missions that stretched from the Mexican border all the way to Sonoma. But the composer says the tubular bells and crotales are not really intended to bring the church bells of the old missions to mind, at least not in the direct sense. Instead, the composer’s intention is to satirize Taco Bell, the Mexican-style fast food chain, invented by an American in California in the 1960s, which famously uses a mission bell as a logo.

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