HSU Hosts California Indian Conference this Week

The 32nd Annual California Indian Conference will bring dozens of speakers and panels to Humboldt State University on April 5 and April 6.

The conference explores a wide variety of subjects affecting Native communities and cultures, including higher education, food security, historical research, natural resources, autonomy, traditional crafts, and youth resilience.

“The conference has been a fantastic and supportive space for me, as a scholar, to present on work that is about my community and tribal peoples,” says HSU Native American Studies Professor Cutcha Risling Baldy, who is also chair of the conference organizing committee. “It’s also amazing to see the number of California Indian scholars and researchers that there are throughout the state.”

Local Native communities and peoples are active and invested in the work of HSU, she says. The last time the conference was held at HSU was in 2005.

“I think bringing people together from across disciplines and organizations and jobs, we start to create connections with each other that can lead to important developments and support for our communities,” Risiling Baldy says.

“Our education system is really set up to erase the Native voice and experience and to pretend like we are just a part of the past. This conference really shows how vibrant and active our communities are, how deeply involved we have always been in education, research, science and philosophy, and how we will continue to support our community peoples in the work that they do.”

The conference is an important opportunity for students and community members to come together with academics and researchers and talk about the important work being done with California Indian history, science, culture, and arts.

Baldy and HSU Native American Studies Professors Kayla Begay will present keynote speeches at the conference.

“I’ll be talking about the long and proud history of Native-focused programs and departments at Humboldt State by focusing on my personal history with HSU and growing up here on campus,” says Risling Baldy. “I’ll also be looking at the impact that HSU programs like Indian Tribal and Educational Personnel Program and Indian Natural Resources, Science and Engineering Program have on recruitment and retention of Native students while also showing what an impact programs like this have on our greater communities.”

Risling Baldy’s research is focused on Indigenous feminisms, California Indians, and decolonization. She is the author of a popular blog that explores issues of social justice, history, and California Indian politics and culture. Risling Baldy is Hupa, Yurok, and Karuk and an enrolled member of the Hoopa Valley Tribe in Northern California. In 2007, Risling Baldy co-founded the Native Women’s Collective, a nonprofit organization that supports the continued revitalization of Native American arts and culture. Risling Baldy’s first book We Are Dancing For You: Native Feminisms and the Revitalization of Women’s Coming-of-age Ceremonies will be published by the University of Washington Press in Spring 2018.

Risling Baldy’s keynote address take place on Thursday, April 5 at 9:30 a.m. in the Native American Forum, Behavioral and Social Sciences room 162.

Begay’s keynote will cover grassroots indigenous language maintenance and revitalization efforts that have grown in California for over 30 years, and linguistic documentation that has been ongoing for over 100 years. The talk will reflect on connections made from growing up in and into these movements, and the power of words that find nohxontaw’, our home in use.

Begay received her Ph.D. and M.A. in linguistics from the University of California, Berkeley, and B.A. in linguistics from Stanford University, focusing on description of languages of Northern California, Dene languages, and community-based language revitalization. While at Stanford, she also minored and taught classes in Native American studies. She is an enrolled Hoopa Valley Tribal member, with grandparents and great-grandparents also enrolled in the Karuk and Yurok tribes. She is a current board member with the Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival. Read more about Begay’s work here.

Begay’s keynote address take place on Friday, April 6 at 1:30 p.m. in the Native American Forum, Behavioral and Social Sciences room 162.

The full schedule of panels is available on the California Indian Conference website. The events are open to the public and free, except for the closing reception, Friday, April 6 from 6 to 8 p.m., which costs $20.

For more information, visit the conference website.

Also this week, on April 7, is the California Indian Big Time & Social Gathering, which honors and celebrates California Native traditions and builds community with songs, games, resources, arts, and crafts.

The Big Time & Social Gathering takes place from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. in HSU’s Forbes Complex West Gym. More information is available here.