Native Berkeley: Ancient Wisdom for Troubled Times

On Sunday, December 4, three of Berkeley’s most knowledgeable scholars and historians will join three highly accomplished Native Ohlone cultural practitioners for an exploration of Berkeley’s indigenous heritage—its deep past, its vibrant present, and its promising future. Sponsored by a number of community organizations listed below, participants will include, in order of appearance:

Vincent Medina. Outreach coordinator for the quarterly magazine, News from Native California and board member of Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival, Medina traces his ancestry to the Native villages of the East Bay. He is a fluent speaker of Chochenyo, the language of Berkeley. He will open the program with a welcome.

Malcolm Margolin. Author of The Ohlone Way: Indian Life in the San Francisco-Monterey Bay Area, founder & publisher emeritus of Heyday Books and News from Native California, Margolin will give an overview of 12,000 years of human habitation of the Berkeley area.

Kent Lightfoot. Archaeologist, Professor of Anthropology at U.C. Berkeley, and author of the Natural History of California Indians, Lightfoot will discuss the village site on Fourth Street (the area around Spenger’s park lot).

Richard Schwartz. Historian and author of several books on the history of Berkeley, Schwartz will show slides of mortar holes, petroglyphs, deposits of shell beads, stone chips, and other signs of the Indian past that abound in Berkeley. 

Linda Yamane, Rumsien Ohlone, has mastered several traditional Native arts, including basketry (her baskets have been commissioned by the Oakland Museum and other leading institutions), boat building, song, language, food, storytelling, and more.

Quirina Luna-Geary, Mutsun Ohlone, noted for her revival of the Mutsun language, has recently been researching Native dance traditions and dance regalia.

Vincent Medina (see above) will tell stories and discuss his work in bringing back language and other aspects of traditional culture.

The program will conclude with a panel discussion by the various participants on what all residents of Berkeley might gain from a better understanding of Native heritage.

Sponsors include Friends of Ohlone Park, Heyday Books, News from Native California,

Reservations strongly encouraged, as seating is limited. If there are still seats available on the day of the event, ticket sales will be cash only at the door.

Ticket are $8-10, with no one turned away for lack of funds. Tickets are available at

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