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Inaugural Native American Symposium May 5, 2023

About the Symposium

The Inaugural Native American Symposium at Santa Clara University focused on the Challenges of the Federal Recognition Process and was held on Friday, May 5, 2023 from 9:30am - 4:30pm at the Mayer Theatre on the SCU campus.

This newly developed symposium was planned in collaboration with the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area and co-presented by SCU’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion, de Saisset Museum, Community Heritage Lab, and Center for the Arts and Humanities.

The symposium is just one component of the University’s ongoing collaboration with the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe, and is intended to bring greater dialogue and civic engagement to the campus community and regional community. SCU sees the importance of providing a space in which Native leaders and community members come together with academics and others to explore themes and issues important to Native community partners; a responsibility that is important for all Bay Area institutions. 

The Muwekma Ohlone Tribe is not federally recognized, which is true for many of California’s Native tribes that were colonized into the mission system as well as other tribal communities whose ancestral territory is located throughout present-day California.

Symposium was FREE and open to the community. 

The full recording of the Symposium is now available and links to the two Powerpoint presentations are listed below in the meeting agenda. 

If you have questions, please reach out to Lauren Baines ( and/or Ray Plaza (

Schedule of Events

** All Sessions held at the Mayer Theatre and Schedule is Subject to Change **

Time Description Speaker(s)
9:00 AM Doors Open   
9:30 AM

Welcome and Opening Remarks

  • Lauren Baines, Santa Clara University
  • Dr. Ray Plaza, Santa Clara University
  • Dr. Kate Morris, Co-Provost,. Santa Clara University
9:45 AM Land Acknowledgment Monica V. Arellano, Vice Chairwoman, Muwekma Ohlone Tribe
9:55 AM Prayer Gloria E. Gomez, Councilwoman, Muwekma Ohlone Tribe
10:00 AM Opening Address Charlene Nijmeh, Chairwoman, Muwekma Ohlone Tribe
10:15 AM Break  
10:30 AM

Presentation: Erasure and Resistance: The Historical Context for Muwekma Federal Recognition

Lee Panich Presentation

Dr. Lee Panich, Santa Clara University
11:10 AM

Presentation: The Tribe's Struggle to be Recognized

Leventhal - Part One of Presentation

Leventhal - Part Two of Presentation

Alan Leventhal, San Jose State University
12:15 PM

Lunch Break & Movie Screening: Time Has Many Voices

1:00 PM Reconvening & Welcome Claire Alford, President, SCU Native American Coalition for Change (NACC)
1:05 PM

Presentation: The Tribe Vanishes:  Legibility and the Recognition Petition of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe

Dr. Les Field, University of New Mexico
2:15 PM Panel Discussion: Making Sense of the Final Determination and Broken Federal Recognition Process

Moderator: Dr. Michael Wilcox, Stanford University

Panel members include:

  • Charlene Nijmeh, Chairwoman
  • Dr. Les Field
  • Dr. Lee Panich
  • Dr. Laura Jones
  • Ken Nijmeh
  • Colin Cloud Hampson
3:15 PM Conversation: Paths to Restoration - Congress or the Secretary of the Interior?

Interviewer: Dr. Les Field, University of New Mexico

Interviewees include:

  • Charlene Nijmeh, Chairwoman
  • Dr. Laura Jones
4:30 PM Closing Remarks


4:45 PM Reception in the foyer and patio area outside of Mayer Theatre