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UC Merced Reaches Out to Valley Native American Community

October 21, 2002

In recognition of the importance of the Native American community in the San Joaquin Valley and Sierra Nevada, the University of California, Merced will participate in two upcoming collaborative efforts with local tribal representatives.

The future campus site of the University of California, Merced will be blessed by local Native American tribes on Tuesday, October 22, 2002, and the First Annual Central Valley Chapter of California Indian Education Association/UC Merced Benefit Pow Wow will be held on Saturday, November 2, 2002.

“UC Merced is furthering its goal of supporting the culturally diverse groups of the San Joaquin Valley by recognizing their traditions and contributions that make the valley an inherently distinctive place to live and work,” said University Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey. “It is very rewarding for the University to participate in two Native American Indian festivities in the Merced area within a few days of each other.”

Native American leaders said the campus site blessing would be important in building a relationship with the University. Katherine Perez, a representative of the North Valley Yokut, Ohlone and Mi-Wuk tribes, will be one of the leaders of the ceremony. “As part of our blessing of the future campus site, we pray that the project is fruitful and brings only good to the people of the area,” said Perez. “We also ask that the University be particularly culturally sensitive in working with Native American students to encourage their participation in higher education.”

The blessing of the site will involve the participation of a handful of people, including tribe members and university staff members. As part of the event, a blend of warm medicine carried in an abalone shell will be first lit and then “smudged” to ward off any evil presence. The participants will also partake in song and prayer to encourage good will throughout the campus site.

Pow Wow on November 2

On Saturday, November 2, the university will help sponsor a Native American Pow Wow. The event, entitled “Our Youth: Achievement through Native American Education,” will celebrate tribal history and customs with a festival of specialty dances and performances as well as drumming, arts and crafts, and authentic cuisine.

Media Note: Reporters interested in attending the site blessing on 10/22/02 should contact Patti Waid at 209-228-4483. Out of respect for the tribes' request, no photography or filming will be allowed during the event.

UC Merced Campus Site Blessing

Tuesday, October 22, 2002, beginning at 1 p.m. with ending time to be determined.

The First Annual CIEA CV Chapter/UC Merced Benefit PowWow

Saturday, November 2, 2002, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Veterans and Rotary Coves
Yosemite Lake, Merced

James Leonard

Director of News and Social Media

Office: (209) 228-4408

Mobile: (209) 681-1061