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About the LRC

Explore the richness of religion and spirituality in the Silicon Valley.

A Buddha statue from the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. [Photo by Kate Soifer, SCU '22.]

A Buddha statue from the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. [Photo by Kate Soifer, SCU '22.]

The Silicon Valley is a landscape of remarkable religious and spiritual diversity. Indeed, the very forces that draw people from across the globe to Northern California also bring people who practice in a wide range of religious and spiritual traditions to the region.

Our primary commitment is to encourage and enrich young adults’ understanding of what religion is; how religion intersects with other fields of life and culture; how religion is changing in the lives of the real people and communities all around them; and what all of that means in terms of their own self-understanding, life purpose, and vocation.

The LRC focuses on direct engagement within local communities, congregations, organizations, and other sites of religious and spiritual practice in everyday life. This moves our work extensively outside of the university classroom and campus into multiple contexts of lived religious engagement.

 

 

This is the Fifth Mission Cemetery, which was active from 1820-1951 and holds the remains of Indigenous Californians along with Catholics. This cemetery, located adjacent to the Mission, remains unmarked by the University. [Image by Kate Soifer, SCU '22.]

This is the Fifth Mission Cemetery, which was active from 1820-1951 and holds the remains of Indigenous Californians along with Catholics. This cemetery, located adjacent to the Mission, remains unmarked by the University. [Image by Kate Soifer, SCU '22.]

Land Acknowledgement

Santa Clara University was founded in 1777 on the land of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribal People, who today are comprised of all of the known surviving Indigenous American lineages aboriginal to the San Francisco Bay region. Muwekma Ohlone People were subject in the 18th century to often forced evangelization and missionization by the Catholic Church that involved separation from their families and communities, alienation from their languages and cultures, and compulsory work on the building of the Mission and other colonial facilities, and the famed El Camino Réal that connects the California missions. They experienced geographic displacement by Spanish colonists. The Ohlone Muwekma People maintained a forceful resistance against this occupation for decades. Their situation did not improve under either Mexican or U.S. rule in the 19th century. The Mexican system of land title, reaffirmed in American courts, disregarded most Indigenous American land claims. They were victims of genocide by European-American settlers in California who were supported by the state and federal governments. Nonetheless they survived, returning to ancestral lands and forming new communities. A large settlement of displaced families from across the Bay Area was established in Pleasanton, California. The tribal government that was established at Pleasanton continues in the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe. The land on which Mission Santa Clara, and, later, Santa Clara University, were established was and continues to be of great significance to the Muwekma Ohlone Tribal People. Today, the Muwekma Ohlone work as stewards for many of their up-to,10,000-year-old ancestral heritage village and cemetery sites, such as the old Holiday Inn Site located downtown along the Guadalupe River and the 9,900 year-old Metcalf Road Site, located along Coyote Creek and Highway 101. 
 
In 2019, the University established the Ohlone History Working Group to review the current markers and monuments that honor the history of the Ohlone people on campus; consult with Ohlone representatives about their views on the most appropriate ways to honor their ancestors; consult and review commemorations of Native Peoples at other California Missions; and draft recommendations. A report of the Working Group's findings and recommendations is available here.
 
To find out more about the history of Indigenous Californians at Santa Clara, visit Mission Santa Clara Unearthered.