CHASS Initiative Creates Partnership with Native American Communities

By Robert Bastone, Student Intern of CHASS College Computing
Interim Dean Joel Martin

The College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (CHASS) and Interim Dean Joel Martin are spearheading an initiative that will closely tie the College with local Native American communities while helping to teach UCR students. The initiative is intended to fuse the preservation of Native American cultures with academics at UCR and is part of the ongoing development of the College’s interdisciplinary program.

The new partnership will help to create research programs that will work to promote awareness and accurate historical research of Native American cultures. Research projects concerning cultural patrimony, history, and sovereignty are currently in the early stages of development. Activities such as these are intended to help train students in research methods, history, ethnic studies and other areas, and will act as a teaching aid for professors. These projects will also help to preserve Native American culture and contribute to discussions with policymakers and government officials.

A large part of the initiative is a proposal for the creation and development of the Center for California Native Nations. The purpose of the Center is to “act as a vehicle for activating faculty and resources across campus,” according to the Center’s website. In order to coordinate resources, the Center will support research on Native American culture from faculty and students in several different disciplines.

The new initiative will strengthen a previously existing relationship between the College and local Native American communities. Interim Dean Martin has been developing the relationship between local Native American communities and the College since his tenure on this campus began in 2000. Martin played a vital role in organizing collaborative efforts to form a partnership for the Takic Language Revitalization Project. The Project partners UCR’s language program and the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians near Temecula in an effort to teach and preserve Takic languages. Dialects include other various local Native American tribes as well.

Victoria Bomberry
Co-Director of Center for Native California Nations

Interim Dean Martin is also the Rupert Costo Endowed Chair of American Indian Affairs, a position of distinction with the purpose of furthering the preservation and empowerment of Native Americans and their cultures. The Costo Chair was endowed by Rupert and Jeannette Costo, a Cahuilla man and a Cherokee woman who aided in bringing the University of California campus to Riverside . The Costo Endowed Chair is entrusted with the responsibility of furthering research of Native American culture within the university.

The Costos also established one of the largest research collections on American Indian Cultures in the world, the Costo Collection. Located here at UCR, the collection features a library of Native American research materials and an archive of the Costo’s personal documents and pictures. In all there are over 80,000 items in the collection including various documents, books, and pamphlets. The collected works are available on the 4 th floor of the Tomas Rivera Library.

Ethnic Studies Professor Victoria Bomberry, the Co-Director of the Center for Native Nations, is one of a long list of faculty participating in or affiliated with the program. In the future, Bomberry is expected to assume much of Interim-Dean Martin’s role in facilitating and coordinating efforts on campus.

CHASS currently offers several degrees in Native American studies including an M.A. and Ph.D. in Native American History, as well as a B.A. in Ethnic Studies with an emphasis on Native American Studies. Over 40 courses are currently offered through the History, Religious Studies, English, Dance, Ethnic Studies, and Anthropology departments.

Fore more information on the California Native Nations or Native American Programs at UCR, please visit the American Indian Nations website.

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