Berkeley Talks: Linda Rugg on Native American repatriation at UC Berkeley

July 2, 2021
By: Public Affairs

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portrait of Linda Rugg smiling
Linda Rugg is the associate vice chancellor for research at UC Berkeley. (UC Berkeley photo)

In episode 118 of Berkeley Talks, Linda Rugg, associate vice chancellor for research at UC Berkeley, discusses the measures being taken to repatriate Native American ancestral remains and sacred artifacts held by the university.

During her May 7 talk, sponsored by UC Berkeley’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), Rugg discussed Berkeley’s past inaction and its new commitment to complete repatriation, and how it relates to the unnaming of Kroeber Hall.

“I was asked to speak today … because I now occupy a position in the administration, where I’m part of an effort to change a long pattern of delay and obstruction on the part of the university, and frustration and hurt and righteous anger on the part of Native Americans regarding repatriation.”

With the ancestral remains of more than 9,594 Native American people and about 122,000 sacred belongings taken from California tribes, the campus holds one of the largest collections of this kind in the country. Although most of the collection was taken from the Native people of the Bay Area, ancestral remains and sacred belongings from other tribes in California, and from across the U.S., are also in the collection.

After decades of protest by Native people nationally, and in California, the UC system and UC Berkeley have crafted a new policy that focuses on returning all ancestral remains to their descendants.

“I think, more broadly, it’s really incumbent on us to acknowledge and teach and memorialize the history of California and the university and its relationship to Native people,” said Rugg. “And we must apologize for the actions of the past and for continuing hurts that go on because of our lack of action, because we have not followed through. We owe that to the Native people. And we have to repair relations with tribes and treat them as equal partners.”

Listen to the full lecture in Berkeley Talks episode 118: “Linda Rugg on Native American repatriation at UC Berkeley.”

Watch a video of Rugg’s talk, and see past and upcoming events on the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute’s website.