We recognize and are aware that the State of Chico is on lands that were originally occupied by the original inhabitants of this region, the Mechoopda, and we acknowledge their distinctive spiritual relationship with this land, flora, fauna and the waters that flow through the campus. . We are honored that our campus resides on sacred grounds which since time immemorial have supported the Mechoopda people and continue to do so today.—Land recognition
The Book in Common shared reading experience is a long and treasured tradition at Chico State and in our community. This year’s book There there, is a brilliant and provocative novel by Tommy Orange. Described by critics as lively and complex with a “voice full of poetry and rage”, there there is considered a “wonderful and moving portrait of an America few of us have ever seen”. Through the art of storytelling, Orange guides us to observe the lived experiences of 12 urban Indians struggling with drug addiction, abuse and suicide that are symptomatic of generational trauma caused by centuries of racist brutality and genocide. intentional.
I found the reading captivating, starting with the title itself, which is captivating and powerful. I was familiar with the quote from Gertrude Stein, “there is no there”, but now it has an entirely new meaning for me. As book character Dene Oxendene prepares to head into an interview where he hopes to secure funding for a documentary, he has an exchange with another contestant, a balding white man with a beard, Rob. It was clear to me when Rob misused the Gertrude Stein quote that not only was he not from Oakland, but he had no deep sense of place. Dene has a visceral reaction to Rob’s callousness:
“This, there… for the indigenous peoples of this country, all over the Americas, it was developed on buried ancestral lands, glass, concrete, wire and steel, an unrecoverable covered memory. There is not there, there.
At Chico State, we try to honor these covered truths and stories in many ways. Over the past six years, the University has been committed to going beyond an acknowledgment of the land that is recited at events, in programs, and on our website in honor of the Mechoopda people. We developed two Memoranda of Understanding with the Mechoopda and improved our outreach and support to Indigenous students and their communities. We have dedicated spaces in the lobby and outside of the new Science Building honoring Chico State’s first male and female Mechoopda graduates, and calling the outdoor space Bahapki Commons. Last weekend, we got together with one of these graduates and their families to honor their contributions and lasting impact.
Additionally, the University was the first at California State University to establish an Office of Tribal Relations within the Office of the President. Four years ago, Tribal Relations was created under the direction of Rachel McBride-Praetorius. Its goal is to recognize tribal sovereignty by working with tribes through a government-to-government process and to provide Indigenous students with a meaningful and safe space to gather, study and socialize.
Our activities and services have expanded to include outreach to regional tribes and working with the Department of Multicultural and Gender Studies to cultivate Native American studies and with the University Senate to develop policies and resolutions in favor of equity and inclusion of Native Americans. Rachel and I are also very involved in leading Native American initiatives at the CSU system level.
As I reflect on our progress and room for growth, I am grateful for this selection of books for all it has taught me and for the opportunities it has given our campus and community to learn. learn more about Native American experiences and what is really “out there.” “This is a great example of how the Book in Common selection can promote discussion and understanding of important issues in our community, society and the world at large.
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to read there there and participate in the Community Read Challenge. Two weeks of challenge activities remain, including an artist talk with Mechoopda/Maidu member Jacob Meders on February 24 and a Zoom panel discussion on there there by some of our Native American students on February 25. And, of course, author Tommy Orange will be on campus for a talk on March 1 at Laxson Auditorium. Tickets are still available!
As we conclude our discussions on there there, we are continuing to select the 2022-23 book. Comments on the shortlist of the three finalists are now sought. Hope you weigh in and keep reading!