Native American collections in archives, libraries, and museums at the University of California, Berkeley


The effort described below is one of many elements of a larger Native American Initiative that the University of California, Berkeley is exploring as it charts a way forward.  There are many faculty, staff, and student groups on Campus exploring multiple important dimensions, which will be considered by our Campus Leadership.


During Fall 2018 the Vice Chancellor for Research convened a working group to reflect on a report from a California Indian Tribal Forum held on campus in 2017, and to recommend what policy changes should be made for how we use and care for items across UC Berkeley collections of specific legal, cultural, or spiritual interest to Native American tribes and stakeholders. In addition, this working group was asked to review specific concerns put forward in the Tribal Forum Report, and provide an oversight function for our units to respond collectively to the report’s recommendations regarding collections.

Working Group Membership


  • Andrew Garrett, Director, Survey of California and Other Indian Languages; Nadine M. Tang and Bruce L. Smith Professor of Cross-Cultural Social Sciences & Professor of Linguistics
  • Melissa Stoner, Native American Studies Librarian, Ethnic Studies Library


  • Susan Edwards, Social Sciences Division Head, UC Berkeley Library
  • Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, University Librarian and Chief Digital Scholarship Officer; Professor, School of Information and Department of Economics
  • Nicole Myers-Lim, Executive Director, California Indian Museum and Cultural Center
  • Benjamin Porter, Director, Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology; Associate Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology
  • Elaine Tennant, James D. Hart Director of The Bancroft Library, Professor of German

Facilitated by Verna Bowie, Project Policy Analyst, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research

Executive Summary

In this report, we discuss relationships among Indigenous people, the State and the University of California, and Berkeley's Native American collections.  Ethical and moral considerations that emerge from the history of Berkeley's research and collecting projects are an important aspect of our assessment.

Here we summarize our recommendations.  Items 1-7 are outside the scope of our work, but are essential if policy change for archives, libraries, and museums are to make a difference. Recommendations 8-10 are within the purview of our charge.

  1. Acknowledge Native American historical trauma.
  2. Acknowledge, respect, and support the sovereignty of tribal nations.
  3. Acknowledge different systems of information management.
  4. Improve the campus climate for Native Americans.
  5. Improve the classroom climate for Native Americans.
  6. Improve NAGPRA climate.
  7. Clarify research policy for Native American contexts.
  8. Appoint a central campus Tribal Liaison Officer.
  9. Take concrete steps to improve accessibility of digitized and undigitized Native American materials in campus archives, libraries, and museums.
  10. Take concrete steps to empower Native American individuals, communities, and tribes to participate in the curations, and assert cultural ownership, of materials in campus archives, libraries, and museums.

Our recommendations include the creation of two new important campus positions, with support for both positions and additional funded actions:

  • A Tribal Liaison Officer for collections, to engage with tribal nations and Native communities regarding materials in campus archives, libraries, and museums. 
  • A Native American archival program co-ordinator or cultural resource specialist to help accomplish a truly massive, long-term cataloging project to make Berkeley's Native American materials fully accessible to the Indigenous people for whom we are curating them.

Download the Full Report

You may access and download the full-resolution final report (March 15, 2019) here. The file has many images and is large (64MB)

You may access and download a low-resolution version here, however the image quality is poor.

Preferred Citation

Andrew Garrett, Melissa Stoner, Susan Edwards, Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, Nicole Myers-Lim, Benjamin W. Porter, Elaine C. Tennant, and Verna Bowie. 2019. Native American collections in archives, libraries, and museums at the University of California, Berkeley: Working group report. Berkeley: Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, University of California, Berkeley. 

Submit Feedback or a Comment

Comments and feedback on the report are welcome and should be submitted to  

Please note: even though the report is complete, and will not be revised at this stage, we are pleased that it can provide a mechanism for members of the community to raise objections, concerns, suggestions, and insights as campus begins to chart a way forward.