Dominican Honors Coast Miwok On Indigenous Peoples' Day
In partnership with the Coast Miwok Tribal Council, Dominican University of California honored Indigenous Peoples’ Day on October 11 with an afternoon of traditional Coast Miwok stories, songs, and blessings. The Coast Miwok are the original caretakers of the land on which Dominican resides.
The event began with Dominican President Nicola Pitchford reading the University’s land acknowledgement statement. She was joined by members of the University’s Indigenous Partnership Circle. The group has spent the past nine months reading, educating themselves, listening to local Indigenous leaders, and reviewing documents associated with Dominican’s history on the Miwok land. The land acknowledgment statement is one result of this work and reflection.
Dominican is located on unceded Coast Miwok land originally occupied by the large Miwok village of Awani-Wi. The University is committed to an ongoing partnership with Coast Miwok people through listening and learning, President Pitchford said.
“It will take time, work, and reflection to understand fully what it means for Dominican to take responsibility for our stewardship of this precious, unceded native land,” she said. “I’m excited and grateful that our community appears ready for this work. We welcome the further guidance of our Coast Miwok neighbors and partners.”
Several members of the Coast Miwok Tribal Council of Marin, who are lineal Marin Coast Miwok descendants, led the event in partnership with Dominican’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
“We welcome this afternoon as an opportunity both to begin the healing process for the trauma our ancestors experienced,” said Joe Sanchez, Tribal Council Hoipu, “and to form a bridge to the future that joins the wisdom of our elders with that of the Dominican community.”
The two-hour event offered the audience of more than 100 students, faculty, staff, and neighbors an opportunity to come together as a community to listen, learn and reflect together while acknowledging that Marin is Coast Miwok land. Oral histories trace the Coast Miwok lineage back at least 10,000 years.
Joe Sanchez (Tribal Elder and Hoipu, Rancho Nicasio), shared with attendees the history of the Coast Miwok, spanning the time before and after colonizers arrived. Dean Hoaglin (Dance Captain and Headman, Olumpali) and Jason Deschler (Dance Captain and Headman, Sah-ta-ko), offered traditional songs, prayers, and reflections on what it means to be an Indigenous person in the Bay Area today. Sky Road Webb (Fire Keeper and Hoipu, Tomales), told Coast Miwok stories and songs of the First Peoples (the animals). The Council's special guest, Alicia Retes, who is of Maya and Yaqui descent, presented "Two Bears," a traditional Yaqui story of love, betrayal and redemption. Brisa Santana, daughter of Richard Santana who founded Oakland’s Café Santana Roasting Company, shared her family’s Indigenous story. Café Santana also provided attendees with samples of their craft roasted, fair trade coffee.
“We recognize that this acknowledgment of our university’s location on unceded native land is only the first step in a process of reckoning with our responsibilities toward Coast Miwok and other Indigenous peoples,” President Pitchford said. “I’m eager to learn and reflect further together, and I’m grateful for the generous guidance of our Coast Miwok partners.”
Photo above of Sky Road Webb of Coast Miwok Tribal Council of Marin addressing audience at Indigenous Peoples' Day ceremony at Dominican.