Campus & community, Events at Berkeley

Celebrating Native American Heritage Month, every month

By Public Affairs

Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion Dania Matos and Stephen Sutton, vice chancellor for student affairs, sent the following message to the campus community on Wednesday:

November is National Native American Heritage Month. Please join us in celebrating the contributions, traditions, foods, languages and futures of people across campus who identify as Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, First Nation, or who otherwise identify as indigenous. We want to recognize the deep and meaningful history of Native Americans and indigenous people in this country, and while celebrating contributions and successes, we also acknowledge that history is fraught, challenges remain, and there is much still to be done. You can read President Biden’s proclamation for this year’s Native American Heritage Month here . Of course, we would be remiss in not acknowledging that Berkeley sits in the territory known as xucyun (Huichin), and as we write this message, we have a responsibility to create relationships and partnerships with East Bay Ohlone people, lifting up issues that affect those communities, and learning to be better allies with the indigenous people and original stewards of this land .

Native American Heritage Month, every month

We, of course, honor and celebrate Native American people and communities year-round. In September, California Native American Day was observed across California, first created in 1998 to clarify misperceptions about California Indians. In early October, we saw the 30th anniversary of the Berkeley Indigenous People’s Day Powwow and Indian Market. In fact, Berkeley was the first city in the country to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day– five years before the day would become a federally-recognized holiday. San Francisco’s American Indian Film Institute held its 47th film festival this month, continuing the annual celebration of Native cinema and storytelling. As we move towards the popular American Thanksgiving holiday, it is important to reflect that there is a spectrum of experiences around this holiday and its meaning. The Alcatraz Indigenous People’s Sunrise Gathering hosted by the Indigenous Treaty Council is one way some indigenous people and allies choose to observe the day. The event seeks to honor traditions of indigenous communities on a day that attention is normally devoted elsewhere. It’s also sometimes referred to as Unthanksgiving Day or Un-Thanksgiving Day.

With the rise in popularity of Land Acknowledgements in recent years, we encourage you to explore this Land Acknowledgement toolkit created to encourage academic communities to recognize the original nations on whose land we live, learn, and work and was created by California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center, and California State University San Marcos’s American Indian Studies department, in partnership with Palomar College and the Southern California Tribal Chairman’s Association.

UC Berkeley shows up strong at SACNAS conference

Late last month, a cohort of staff, faculty, and students attended the Society for Advancing Chicanos,  Hispanic people, and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) Conference in Puerto Rico. SACNAS is an organization dedicated to fostering the success of Latinx people and Native American people, from college students to professionals, in attaining advanced STEM degrees, careers, and positions of leadership. Their conference is the largest multidisciplinary and multicultural STEM diversity event in the country.

Migdalia Sanchez, an undergrad mechanical engineering Cal NERDS student who was part of our cohort, shared some reflections on her experience, “As an Indigenous Zapotec woman in STEM, specifically in engineering, it is quite rare to find scholars and opportunities where my identity and passions intersect. It was wonderful to be able to have conversations among other scholars about how our identity as indigenous peoples takes a crucial role in how we manage the world we live in, the spaces we are in, who we interact with, and how our identity takes a pivotal role in how we want to solve the world’s problems as engineers, lawyers, and scientists.”

Learn about work happening to repatriate artifacts to indigenous tribes and communities

PBS NewsHour crew recently visited campus to do a feature on ottoy, a collaboration between Cafe Ohlone and the  Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, and the efforts of the museum to change its approach to repatriation of ancestral remains, funerary objects, and objects of cultural patrimony. Our colleagues in Public Affairs covered the story on the Berkeley News website.

Arts Research Center welcomes Beth Piatote as new director; hosts events with native artists

The Arts Research Center welcomed incoming Director Beth Piatote earlier this fall: “She will serve as ARC’s faculty director for the next three years and bring her brilliance, creativity, and political commitments to ARC as she continues to showcase how the arts act as vital research. Beth is a creative writer, playwright, and scholar, as well as an indigenous language activist and a founding member of luk’upsiimey or North Star Collective, a group dedicated to using creative expression for Nez Perce language revitalization. She is one of the co-creators and current Chair of the Designated Emphasis in Indigenous Language Revitalization at Berkeley and an Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature.”
Last month, the Research Center hosted award-winning Dine poet Jake Skeets for a craft talk and poetry reading; you can read a blog post review about his craft talk to learn more about his creative process. Filmmaker Terry Jones, a member of the Seneca Nation, joined Beth Piatote for an artist talk–a recording of which is now available for viewing and sharing.

Make time to visit ottoy

Vincent Medina and Louis Trevino, the chefs behind the 2018 pop-up restaurant Cafe Ohlone , have developed a new collaboration–one that is rooted in healing–with the Hearst Museum of Anthropology and Cal Dining. ottoy is an outdoor dining and educational space located just outside the museum; its name means to repair or mend in Chochenyo. Medina and Trevino’s efforts were recently featured in a Berkeley News story and, on their website , they mention being driven by two goals: “to provide a physical space for our Ohlone people to be represented in the culinary world with a curated space that represents our living culture; and to educate the public, over Ohlone cuisine, in a dignified, honest manner about the original and continuous inhabitants of this land.” Cafe Ohlone remains the only restaurant/food project of its kind in the world today.

UC system-wide efforts: Native American Opportunity Plan, Programs in Medical Education (UC PRIME)

The UC system Introduced the Native American Opportunity Plan this fall. The program is dedicated to covering in-state, systemwide Tuition and Student Services Fees for California students who are also enrolled in federally recognized Native American, American Indian, and Alaska Native tribes. This plan supports both undergraduate and graduate students.

This year, Transforming Indigenous Doctor Education (TIDE) was added to the University of California’s Programs in Medical Education (UC PRIME) . UC PRIME is a unique medical school program that supplements standard training with additional curriculum tailored to meet the needs of various underserved populations. PRIME-TIDE , based at UC San Diego,  was created to prepare medical students for careers focused on providing healthcare to Native populations. This will be accomplished by didactic and experiential training on the specific healthcare needs, cultural context in which that care is provided, and how medical research may inform decisions made by healthcare personnel.

Resources, events and groups

There are many organizations, resources, events, and spaces across campus that are dedicated to people who are Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, First Nation, or who otherwise identify as Indigenous. Initiated by students in 1991, the Indigenous Native Coalition Recruitment and Retention Center provides resources, advocacy, welcoming spaces, and opportunities to prospective and current students (follow them on Instagram !). The Indigenous Graduate Student Association offers graduate students ways to connect academically, culturally, and socially; the Native American Law Students Association promotes the success of Native students, creates awareness around Native issues, and fosters a positive culture of unity, cooperation, and respect (and it has a great Instagram account!) Indigenous faculty, staff, and postdocs can get involved with the Native & Indigenous Council : a staff organization that supports networking and other community-building opportunities. The American Indian Graduate Program works to enhance the graduate education experience for Native American students across campus; grow the number of American Indian graduate students who apply, enroll and graduate from UC Berkeley; and support contemporary applications for the Indigenous graduate student experience at UC Berkeley. The Native American Student Development Office exists to support undergraduate and graduate Native and Indigenous students during their time at UC Berkeley and oversees the Native Community Center.

The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans by sponsoring several events throughout the month and information online. Check out the National Native American Heritage Month website. The National Museum of the American Indian is hosting a Native Cinema Showcase in November from 18 through 25, with films being available on-demand.

This CalMessage was written in partnership with Phenocia Bauerle, Elisa Diana Huerta, and Diana Lizarraga. The Divisions of Equity & Inclusion and Student Affairs offer deep gratitude to this network of people who contributed their insights and expertise.