UC Finally Gives Respect to Native Man Ishi

“The University of California, Berkeley, has removed the name of an anthropologist whose controversial treatment of a Native man has drawn decades of criticism.” N. Brennan, ICT March 17, 2021

Alfred Kroeber (center) is shown with an Indigenous man he named Ishi, right, and Yahi translator Sam Batwa. Photo- UC. ICT

“Anthropologist Alfred Kroeber (center) is shown with an Indigenous man he named Ishi, right, and Yahi translator Sam Batwai. The photo was taken in 1911 in San Francisco, near what was then known as the University of California Museum of Anthropology. Ishi lived and worked in the museum until he died of tuberculosis in 1916. (Photo courtesy of UC San Francisco History Collection)”

Excerpt: Justice for Ishi: UC removes hall’s name, By Natasha Brennan, ICT

“The University of California at Berkeley has stripped the name of a controversial anthropologist from a science and arts building, drawing praise as a ‘first step’ toward healing tensions with tribes and Indigenous students but reigniting criticisms over slow repatriation of Native remains.

For more than 50 years, the building carried the name of Alfred Louis Kroeber, a cultural anthropologist whose research in the early 1900s influenced the study of California tribes for decades.

But his involvement in the exhumation and collection of Indigenous remains and his treatment of a Native man called Ishi – dubbed ‘the last wild Indian in the United States’ – brought growing demands on Berkeley to remove his name.

An unidentified workman takes down lettering from a University of California, Berkeley building on Jan. 26, 2021

Joining the call for removal were leaders of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe, whose unceded lands are now home to UC Berkeley. Kroeber, who taught at Berkeley for 45 years, erroneously declared the Ohlone tribe to be culturally extinct in 1925, prompting the Bureau of Indian Affairs to remove the tribe’s federally recognized status and forcing members to vacate their protected land…Indigenous student groups praised the committee’s unanimous decision to ‘unname’ the building..Kroeber was the university’s first faculty member in the newly formed Anthropology Department, moving west in 1901 to the San Francisco area at age 25…Ishi apparently surfaced near Oroville, California in 1911, when, alone and emaciated, he was arrested by police for a string of food thefts. Kroeber and UC faculty convinced authorities to release him into their custody.

The man did not give Kroeber his name, but was called ‘Ishi,’ meaning ‘man.’ Ishi was believed to have survived the Three Knolls Massacre in 1865, when many of the Yahi tribal members were killed. He also survived another attack in 1908 that is believed to have killed his few remaining family members.

Kroeber, who by then was the museum’s director, proposed that Ishi be housed at the museum. Ishi worked as a janitor and as a ‘living exhibit’ for visitors, making tools and recording Yahi songs and stories, according to the museum’s website.

According to author Orin Starn’s 2004 book Ishi’s Brain: In Search of America’s Last Wild Indian,Ishi wasdisturbed to be living in the museum among the ancestral remains. He knew of the research and autopsies conducted, and told Kroeber he wanted to be cremated and buried without an autopsy in accordance with his tribe’s traditions… The building’s controversial namesake has been a topic of discussion for years… Finally, in July 2020, the UC Berkeley’s Building Name Review Committee launched an official review of the arts and science building name after receiving an official proposal to remove Kroeber’s name. The proposal was signed by representatives of Indigenous student groups, Berkeley faculty and staff, and members of the school’s Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act Advisory Committee.”

Also in Indian Country:

“Anyone in Oklahoma can now get the Covid-19 vaccine, thanks to several Native tribes, By Harmeet Kaur, CNN, March 16, 2021 “Any resident of Oklahoma can now get the Covid-19 vaccine — but it’s not because of the state’s health department. Instead, Oklahomans have several Native tribes to thank. Last week, the Chickasaw Nation opened up Covid-19 vaccine appointments to all Oklahoma residents, regardless of whether they are citizens of the tribe.”Read article: H. Kaur, CNN

COVID-19 RESOURCES FOR NATIVE AMERICANS

Center for Disease and Control (CDC): COVID Data Tracker: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#vaccinations

Indian Health Services (IHS): COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution List: https://www.ihs.gov/coronavirus/vaccine/distribution/

Indian Health Services (IHS): Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding the COVID-19 Vaccinehttps://www.ihs.gov/coronavirus/vaccine/

For additional ONAP COVID-19 resources, please visit the ONAP COVID-19 Recovery Programs web page: https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/public_indian_housing/ih/Covid_Recovery

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