UC San Diego News Center


Photo by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

Educational and Artistic Events Center of UC San Diego’s California Native American Day Celebration

Spoken word and theatrical performances, film screenings, a powwow as well as an art and essay contest are all part of UC San Diego’s 11th annual California Native American Day celebration. A statewide holiday established in 1998, California Native American Day is recognized on the fourth Friday of September. At UC San Diego, the one-day festivities have been expanded to a yearlong celebration. The theme for the campus’s 2016-2017 celebration is “Native Journeys: Forging Paths to an Empowered Future.”

“We are proud to host an extended series of events throughout the academic year to celebrate California Native American Day and strengthen the ties between our campus and local tribal communities,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “This year’s events are designed to unite educators, students and community members to showcase and deepen our understanding of the rich culture, traditions and contributions of Native Americans.”


Elena Hood

This spring, UC San Diego welcomed Elena Hood to serve as the campus’s first director of the Inter-Tribal Resource Center, the university’s newest space dedicated to inclusion and outreach efforts. The center has a key role in planning the California Native American Day events at UC San Diego. “My goal is to foster a welcoming space for Native populations, including students, staff, families and visitors on campus, provide resources to support academic and professional development, as well as build partnerships with both urban and local tribal communities,” Hood said.

The first UC San Diego California Native American Day event was the annual kick-off celebration featuring a blessing, lunch, performances and intertribal sports workshops on Sept. 23. Below are details for UC San Diego’s upcoming California Native American Day events. For a full calendar, click here.

  • Oct. 27-28, Ishi: The Archive Performance by James Luna James Luna, Oct. 27 at 2 p.m., Oct. 28 at 7:30 p.m.: “Ishi: The Archive Performance” is a new work written and performed by James Luna, renowned Native American visual and performance artist. In 1911, an American Indian man walked into a small northern California town. His appearance inspired fright, laughter and pity from the populace. Anthropologists came to the conclusion that Ishi was the last of his tribe and decided that for his welfare and for the advancement of science, he would live out at UC Berkeley where he would be studied by the university and worked with them as a research assistant. He lived in an apartment at UC Berkeley’s campus museum for most of the remaining five years of his life. James Luna has created a powerful exploration of Ishi’s life, silence and the place that he should hold in the history and cultures of California. Theodore and Adele Shank Theatre.
  • Nov. 15 The Seventh Fire Film Screening, 3 to 5 p.m.–– The Seventh Fire tells the story of a Native American gang leader on a remote Minnesota reservation who must confront his role in bringing violence to his community when he is sentence to prison for a fifth time. The film, which was produced by Terrence Malick, Natalie Portman and Chris Eyre, provides a haunting examination of the gang crisis in Indian Country. Cross-Cultural Center, Comunidad Room.
  • Nov. 17-19, California's American Indian & Indigenous Film Festival 2016 (CAIIFF), various times–– The CAIIFF will highlight the best of current films from American Indian filmmakers, producers, directors, and actors working through Indian Country. On the campus of California State University-San Marcos.
  • April 1, Poetic Landscapes: Indigenous Spoken Word and Storytelling - A Cabaret, 7:30 to 9 p.m.–– This evening of poetry, spoken word, and storytelling by Indigenous writers and performers features a variety of emergent and established artists from local communities reading their own work, or selections from other Indigenous writers. The Loft on UC San Diego’s campus.
  • Feb. 1 to April 4, California Native American Day High School Art and Essay Contest—Students from grades 9-12 are encouraged to participate in this essay and art contest. Cash prizes will be awarded to the best essays in four categories. For more information, go to:
  • May 2017, 6th Annual UC San Diego Powwow—Spearheaded by the UC San Diego Native American Student Alliance (NASA), the event will bring together Native American and non-Native American people to dance, sing, socialize and honor American Indian culture. Warren Field.

UC San Diego has enhanced its outreach efforts to boost access and resources for Native American students. Last fall, the Chancellor’s Associates’ Scholarship Program was expanded to include students from federally recognized tribes throughout the state of California. Established in 2013, the scholarship program is designed to improve the pathway to a UC San Diego education for more qualified students from all backgrounds. When paired with the UC Blue + Gold Opportunity Plan, the program essentially ensures that financial needs for eligible students are met.

In addition, UC San Diego Extension leads a unique partnership with both the Sycuan Education Department and the Viejas Tribal Education Center to provide college preparatory programs as part of a larger effort to boost college enrollment among young adults in underrepresented communities.