UC San Diego News Center


Photos by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

Region’s Indigenous Cultures Commemorated at UC San Diego Native American Celebrations

UC San Diego’s 10th annual California Native American Day celebration kicked off Friday with an opening ceremony featuring a blessing, traditional bird singing and creation story workshop. Other upcoming events for the celebration, themed “Unsettled Stories: Reclaiming This Land,” include an undergraduate research symposium, a Native American film festival, spoken word performances, a powwow and more throughout the 2015-16 academic year.

“UC San Diego’s celebration of California Native American Day has become an important campus tradition, and has grown over the last decade into a year-long series of events that honor Native American history and culture,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “We are committed to raising awareness on our campus about the legacy and contributions of the Native American community, strengthening our relationship with the community, and providing opportunities for education.


Becky Petitt, UC San Diego’s Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, added: “UC San Diego’s celebration of California Native American Day is especially significant as the campus continues to extend its outreach efforts to tribal communities.”

UC San Diego Extension recently announced 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. As part of the program, middle and high school students from both the Viejas and Sycuan tribes will have the opportunity to attend summer college-prep courses at UC San Diego and at universities in Arizona, New Mexico, Hawaii and Washington, D.C.

In addition, the Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship Program has grown since it was established in 2013 and now includes local students from federally recognized tribes. The program was recently expanded, beginning in fall 2015, to include eligible Native American students from throughout the state.


A sampling of California Native American Day events at UC San Diego are below. For the full calendar of events, click here.

  • Nov. 24, Native American Film Festival, noon to 2 p.m.-A political thriller, “The Activist,” revolves around the lives of two Native American activists who are arrested for involvement in the 1973 Wounded Knee insurrection. The screening is followed by a talk by actor Tonantzin Carmelo. Cross Cultural Center.
  • Dec. 1, Stories from the Indian Boarding School, 7 p.m.-Based on first person narratives, videos and historical documents, this touching, funny, and gritty collection of stories depict the reality and repercussions of the American Indian Boarding School system from the later 1800s to the present. Children were often forcibly taken to off reservation schools hundreds of miles across the continent to attend boarding school. Dance Studio 3, Molli and Arthur Wagner Dance Building.
  • March 1, Poetic Landscapes: Indigenous Spoken Word and Storytelling - A Cabaret, 7 to 9 p.m.-Organized by Professors Gloria Chacon (Literature) and Julie Burelle (Theatre and Dance), 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.
  • March 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 2016, 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. Check website for details.