In favor of the proposal to remove the name Kroeber Hall
I agree that Kroeber Hall should be un-named. I second the comments to rename the building "Ishi Hall"; but ultimately I think the Ohlone people should be consulted if possible.
After reading comments on both "sides," the main argument seem to be, basically, "In my opinion, we can't judge Kroeber by today's moral standards, he was just a man of his time," pit against contemporary testimonies of how the name of the building continues to cause real, tangible trauma today. It is reprehensible that, as one earlier commenter mentioned, we (I am a graduate student in the Anthropology department) continue to refuse to return ancestral remains. How long must we demand that members of our community lay out for us in Google Docs how disrespectful Kroeber's name is before we start listening, even if it's not convenient for us to hear? How many times do we insist that they perform their trauma for us before we believe them? Yes, anthropology as a discipline is steeped in violence, extraction, and ambivalence. The very least we can do is try to push against those impulses. The very least we can do is rename Kroeber Hall.
I believe Kroeber Hall is outdated, and should be reviewed and un-named.
While Alfred Kroeber was an influential anthropologist in his time, there is some genuine controversy around his study of California native populations, especially the forced removal of Ishi from his native land. His style and brand of anthropology is no longer used actively in the field, but only studied as part of the history of narrow-minded ideals anthropology's past to show how far we've come (or have we?). I feel that the name should be considered for review because in itself, Kroeber's work celebrates this antiquated time in the field.
While his findings may be of some importance as they may help us (as anthropologists) understand California native populations in the 1900s, ultimately his work only truly serves academic purposes and academics, and was not taken with the consent of California native peoples. Even now, his work and the things "collected" (stolen) from indigenous communities continue to be used at our University as a means to an academic end, and the communities in which these heirlooms and items of cultural significance come from continue to receive no benefit from this research and destruction, and hardly an acknowledgement.
A name on a building is more than just that, especially at one of the US' top ranked public universities. Whose history are we continuing to celebrate when we keep his name on the building? Surely not the history of the Miwok, Yokuts, Gabrieleño, Maidu and Pomo peoples indigenous to the land stolen from them that Berkeley was built upon, nor the native peoples who still very much live in the Bay Area today, who are still struggling to preserve significant sites to their cultural history (the West Berkeley Shell Mound).
To change the name is to make a MINOR step in the right direction, to recognize and begin to take responsibility for the wrongdoings of the University to indigenous communities of the Bay Area, as well as the other native peoples of California in which we have (wrongly) profited from (and continue to profit from). To change the name is, frankly, NOTHING, compared to the work we still need to do. It's literally the least we could do.
- UC Berkeley Anthropology Grad
See attached PDF (Platt): KROEBER HALL: WHAT’S IN AN UN-NAMING?
See addedum to above document (Platt) August 31, 2020
||See attached PDF (Agarwal): Comments on Proposal to Un-Name Kroeber Hall
||See attached PDF (NALSA): Comments on Proposal to Un-Name Kroeber Hall
||See attached PDF (Muwekma Ohlone Indian Tribe): Comments on Proposal to Un-Name Kroeber Hall
||See attached PDF (Garrett): Comments on Proposal to Un-Name Kroeber Hall
||This is an important step towards inclusivity
||Kroeber's actions were racist, dehumanizing, reprehensible and unconscionable. It's about time the University takes action against his horrific legacy.
||By putting this name on a building, we glorify someone who treated a group of people as if they were less than people. That glorification should end.
||Let Native Californians choose the new name.
||In addition to the name change, I would request there be some sort of commereration of the Ohlone people whose land was used for UC Berkeley and any stolen artifacts that may be in possession of the Anthropology Dept be returned to their rightful owners. This should all be done with the involvement of the indigenous community in Berkeley in collaboration with the school
||Due to the racist history of its namesake, I am in favor of the proposal to un-name Kroeber Hall.
||Kroeber perpetuated racial stereotypes, ignored and trampled over the decisions and needs of indigenous Californians, and used a living human being as a museum exhibit. Many students relax in Ishi court in Dwinelle Hall unaware of the legacy of that name and the cruelty at the hands of the namesake of nearby Kroeber Hall. It is inappropriate that his name continues to have a present on our campus.
||Alfred Kroeber is a disgrace. His fetishization of Native culture and his genocidal legacy is a history that UC Berkeley and UC Berkeley anthropology has to reconcile with. As an Ethnic Studies major, I took classes in Kroeber Hall and was reminded of the disgusting history that undergirds the building every time I went there. It is important for UC Berkeley to make known Cal's historical role in Native settler-colonialism and to take all the steps necessary to alleviate the harm and trauma enacted. Un-naming Kroeber Hall is a symbolic step in the right direction, but it is not nearly enough. Native students need institutional support that materially benefits their livelihoods so that they can be recruited and retained on campus. The Ethnic Studies Department needs to be defended from budget cuts and be better funded so that all UC Berkeley students can have an opportunity to reflect on the racist history of the institution they attend and the country that they occupy.
||I suggest we rename Kroeber Hall, LeGuin Hall, after his daughter Ursula LeGuin the extraordinary science fiction novelist, essayist, translator and poet.
||I support a name change to Ishi Hall.
||Alfred Kroeber’s treatment of Ishi, a Yahi man, both during his life and after his death is not something that should be honored by the University of California, especially not as the name of a building.
||It is shameful that in this day and age, UC Berkeley has preserved the memory of Alfred Kroeber, an outspoken white supremacist, by keeping one of its buildings in his name. It is far overdue that the university removes this name and renames it to represent a figure who actually advocates for social change, both in their professional and personal spaces.
||I do not believe that we should recognize the legacy of a man who removed Native American remains from their graves without consent. As a campus, we must do better to make the campus community and infrastructure welcoming to all. Un-naming Kroeber Hall is a small but necessary step towards this goal. If UC Berkeley truly stands by its social principles, then we must un-name Kroeber Hall.
||I do not believe that we should recognize the legacy of a man who removed Native American remains from their graves without consent. As a campus, we must do better to make the campus community and infrastructure welcoming to all. Un-naming Kroeber Hall is a small but necessary step towards this goal. If UC Berkeley truly stands by its social principles, then we must un-name Kroeber Hall.
||Renaming Kroeber hall is a necessary step towards upholding the values Berkeley claims to hold so dear
||why has it taken so long?
||Native Americans deserve respect, keeping this name is insulting to their history
||The university needs to acknowledge its racist legacy and should detach itself from such association. I believe renaming Kroeber Hall is absolutely necessary to provide a safe space on campus for people of color.
||I strongly support this proposal.
||The name of this building suggests a lack of regard for the autonomy of certain students on campus and that Berkeley honors a racist figure.
||Alfred Kroeber was an instrumental contributor to a brand of racist, inhumane pseudoscience under the guise of ‘cultural anthropology.’ He essentially kidnapped a Yahi/Yana man and displayed him publicly on campus as if he was an animal and not a human. This campus, additionally, houses the remains of many indigenous people despite multiple requests that they be returned. We should be ashamed of Kroeber’s work. Changing the building’s name is the least the school can do to make amends for Kroeber’s inhumane treatment of the peoples, whose stolen lands our campus sits on.
||There are few groups on whom UC Berkeley has incurred more direct harm than the Ohlone people of the Bay Area. Alfred Kroeber was personally responsible for a vast campaign of immoral and unethical research practices and public statements that materially degraded the wellbeing of native people in California, and also represents the University's broader history of harm toward indigenous populations. The removal of his name from our campus building is a small first step in a long list of reparations required.
||The University of California has a lot of reckoning to do with their complacency, participation, and perpetuation of white supremacy, especially at this moment in time with our current racial climate in America coming to a boil. Indigenous students make up LESS than 1% of students on this campus. As a Black student who has faced many hardships, discriminatory episodes, and racial stressors apart of the 2% of Black students on campus, I can only imagine the way Indigenous students must feel every day being erased from the American narrative and having to navigate a campus that does not even acknowledge the Native land it sits on. Not to mention that the UC still is in possession of the remains of Indigenous peoples. If the UC wants to show their commitment to positive change, removing the name of this disgusting white supremacist pseudo-scientist that put an Indigenous man on display in a museum like a zoo exhibit is a small but important first step. If the UC does not remove the names of people like the Alfred Kroeber and other people like him in history, it will prove to its Indigenous students that it really does not care about changing the narrative and the legacy of the university and academia, and that the UC refuses to serve them. Dark history is meant to be remembered to improve the future, not to be glorified.
||This racist history does not have a place at UC Berkeley.
||UC Berkeley should not memorialize those who do not embody the university's values of inclusivity on our buildings.
||My first reaction is that Kroeber's mistakes rise to the level of crimes, and that we should not be memorializing him.
My second reaction is that on balance Kroeber's major contribution was to build historical memory of America's First Nations at a time when few of us whites thought them worthy of study or attention.
My third reaction is that the first-best would be to keep Alfred Kroeber's name on the building, with a prominent main entrance exhibit on his mistakes—and to boost our endowment devoted to the studies of America's First Nations, with substantial First Nation voice and control over how the endowment is spent.
My fourth reaction is that if we are not going to do first best, Kroeber's name should come off of the building, but that that would be a vastly inferior resolution.
However, I have little confidence in my reactions, and am anxious and eager to hear from others...
||William Bascom feels like a good namesake, but I do not know about the ethics of his work. Anthropology is history problematic & certainly requires much discretion
||I would suggest naming this building after the ancestors who Kroeber took advantage of, the Yana Tribe. Kroeber's history is murderous and scandalous. It is essential to show honor to those he hurt for centuries. This
I suggest naming this building "Yana Hall" or "Huichin Ohlone Hall" to honor the Indigenous land Berkeley is on.
||The name Kroeber should be removed from the Anthropology building.
||I agree that Kroeber Hall should be re-named and that an honest, informative memorial plaque should be installed to educate visitors and community members regarding his racist legacy in historical context.
||It is hard to assess a person's behavior outside the historical time period but, with clear evidence of his or her blatant disrespect for minorities or other bad behavior, it should be renamed.
Importantly, it is important what would be the new name. If it's a company who is paying for advertising, I am totally against that. We should honor our legacy, our professors, our researchers, our people who contributed to the university. I don't want to see a company name or a wealthy but dubious individual ass the name of any Dept. All proposals for renaming should take this into account.
||Keeping Krober’s name on thie building contributes to the erasure of and mistreatment of BIPOC, especially Indigenous folks. It honors someone that used inhumane research tactics and exploited native people. This is unacceptable.
||The Kroeber name is inconsistent with the values and goals of the university and should be removed.
||Alfred Kroeber's legacy should be one of shame. Building a career on the exploitation of the Native peoples whose land the edifice bearing his name now sits, it is unbelievable that the university would and still add such insult to injury for the Ohlone people. Renaming this building is the first step in a long process (including returning the stolen remains, which are still in UC Berkeley's possession, of these people to their ancestors) to remediate the damage caused by this institution.
||One of the first things I learned about UC Berkeley in my Art History classes in undergrad was the mistreatment of Ishi by Professor Kroeber in the name of "discovery" and anthropology. Now as an incoming law student, I found it surprising that his name would be on one of the buildings to be celebrated when the Berkeley department of Anthropology itself has publicly apologized for what happened to Ishi and for Kroeber's actions. I think having his name on a building sends the message that Berkeley does not actually care or apologize for his actions despite public statements and apologies. Further, this is just one step I think Berkeley needs to take in evaluating itself and its historic mistreatment of Native Americans. In particular, it's shocking to me that UC Berkeley has only returned 20% of its Native American artifacts and remains (many of which were taken without permission from graves) from thee Hearst Museum. I may be particularly opinionated on this matter having graduated from UCLA with a minor in Art History (an institution that has likewise mistreated Native Americans but at the very least returned 96% of its total remains and artifacts to Native American tribes).
||The treatment of the person known as Ishi by the faculty of the university is a stain on this institution. Removing the name of the person most responsible from this treatment from a position of veneration (i.e. un-naming Kroeber Hall) is a very small way of trying to make amends for it. We should do so as quickly as possible, giving a full airing of the issues, history and mistakes that were made by our campus and its earlier faculty.
||UC Berkeley should not be glorifying racists
||I am in favor of un-naming Kroeber Hall because of the unethical research and collection practices of the current namesake. Additionally I want to mention that it remains painful and shameful that the stolen body parts in question are still not returned to the rightful people.
||Kroeber hall should be renamed after Ishi, from the Yahi tribe, after being exploited and used by Kroeber for several years. Ishi was put on display in the UCB Anthro museum and the least this university can do is remember him.
||As an anthropology grad student, Kroebers legacy is no longer the legacy I would like to continue. I think we should highlight native anthropologists/archaeologists with local indigenous input.
||This is a no-brainer.
||I support this for the reason indicated by the proposers. I suggest that at some point one must indicate why these issues were unimportant to university management at the time of the initial naming and whether such conditions remain that would allow or promote such decisions. As an amateur linguist, I wonder whether names such as "Kroeber" or "Le Conte" were arbitrarily chosen for reasons not indicated in the critical analysis. For example, they may have been phonetic anagrams if something else. And that something else might have been a driver in the decision making. Anyway, interesting to wonder about it. Again, I would suggest that future naming not necessarily "honor" great achievers in the field, lest we promote conservative bias in scholarshio.
||I'd proposed the following names: 1) Mary G. Ross (first known Native American female engineer and the first female engineer in the history of Lockheed; descendant of Cherokee), 2) Fred Begay (Navajo tribe; he developed important work on clean energy)
||I believe that it is unacceptable to have a building named in honour of a man who perpetrated numerous ills upon the native community as well as perpetuating inaccurate information about said communities, which lead to more harm to those communities through it's use in the implementation of government policy
||I echo the statements made in the proposal to un-name Kroeber Hall: Alfred Kroeber’s “anthropological” practices towards Native Americans were disgusting and dehumanizing. His name should be removed from the hall, as it is dehumanizing and unwelcoming to Native students, as well as glorifying a history of genocide and stolen land.
||I don't see any reason why we shouldn't change the names of buildings on campus to reflect the ideals we wish to carry into the future. Good riddance.
||UC Berkeley has a horrible reputation with stolen Native American artifacts and remains, one that's worse than any of the other UCs. There are currently thousands of Native American remains on campus that are only there because there are goblins in a basement somewhere clutching them close and insisting that they're too valuable to give back to their rightful owners, and that's a very important thing to keep in mind in this conversation.
Since Berkeley has a genuinely shameful reputation with stolen remains, it's all the more important to commit itself to change. Kroeber did contribute greatly to the field, and that shouldn't be forgotten. However, not continuing to honor a problematic man who engaged in these shameful practices is a symbolic first step towards no longer engaging in these practices ourselves, which should be the real priority. Taking a stance against Kroeber's treatment of Native American remains in the form of taking his name off of a building while still continuing to treat the remains the same way would look so hypocritical, and just so bad, that it may finally force the University to commit itself to repatriating all of those remains and artifacts after 30 years of doing the bare minimum to not get sued.
||The honorific names of the campus buildings could reflect those whose land we are on, the Ohlone.
||Kroeber Hall needs to be renamed. Alfred Kroeber is not someone to be honored, his research practices were appalling and reprehensible and are now illegal. His collection of remains and the University's stand on keeping these remains do not represent our values. Renaming the building is a step in the right direction. Returning their ancestors needs to be next. It's sad to think that we honored a person who enslaved another human being, Ishi, and used him to perform, taught him racial slurs and made him live among the human remains of his ancestors. Shame on us. Remove the name
||Could we also rename the fountain??
||Now that the truth has been brought to light on Alfred Kroeber's unethical treatment of Native Americans, it would be disgraceful for the school to not un-name the building and would speak to whether UC Berkeley is truly committed to justice and anti-racism. The emails and messages sent from the school about their commitment to justice and equity only go so far and do not have any weight or meaning until we see concrete action, especially when so many UC Berkeley professors of Native American descent are calling for the name removal given the harm that Kroeber's actions have done to their communities (see the signatures in the proposal letter). Un-naming Kroeber Hall is an easy way for you to take action and to carry forth the mission and values that the school claims to uphold.
||Finally the University is acting in favor of its students of color.
||Racist people should have their names removed no matter what their contribution to the university is, they contributed to hate and violence which is a worse offense.
||Across the nation, there are monuments being torn down and names being changed.
Why is this happening?
Because the movement Black Lives Matters is bringing awareness to the context of the establishment of these monuments and the names being named.
While I support Black Lives Matters, I still wish to discuss the justifications of these proposals.
The confederate monuments in the southern states were torn down because they were established during the Jim crow era. They were established in order to intimidate the minority ethnic population in that area. Even if the persons portrayed by these statues were of some respectability, the fact is that their likeness is used to advance such an ignoble cause.
There are talks of opposing removal of monuments due to historical purposes. I agree with that argument if the stated purpose of those monuments was to mark a historical moment. The Washington monument was established to honor the first president of this nation and I would like to think it hard pressed to find a good justification to tear it down.
Now we see the renaming of certain buildings on campus and I would like to ask why?
The reasons we are presented are thus:
Professor Kroeber advanced our knowledge of the Native American population. His methods of doing so through mistreatment of a native american man, collecting native american remains, and pronouncing a still living people extinct were deplorable.
I would like to acknowledge that the United States have had a well known history of perpetuating genocide of the Native American population. I could argue that with the state of Native American reservations, that this genocide is still ongoing.
I would like to think that UC Berkeley and perhaps the United States wants to appear as morally upright. To honor a person who contributed to the destruction of another human race feels morally deplorable.
That is why I support the un-naming of Kroeber Hall.
||This person does not represent the values of UC Berkeley.
||I am in favor of the proposal to un-name Kroeber Hall
||Kroeber not only acted unethically but with malicious intent that ultimately caused irreparable damage to Native Americans. To act ignorant of his history and actively perpetuate his legacy is inexcusable. This is the bare minimum that Berkeley can do and yet it is still being debated and delayed.
||Although I appreciate the Berkeley tradition of naming buildings for academics who have contributed to the growth of knowledge, and I recognize the profound contributions of Kroeber to Anthropology, his acts of desecration of Native remains, and his treatment of Ishi, among other acts, render him beyond the pale of honorifics. He could not have engaged in those acts at the time had he recognized the full humanity of the peoples he studied. This is not, therefore, a question of applying anachronistic research standards. The moral demand of human equality is appropriately expect of him then, as it is now. Keeping his name on the building denies the humanity of those he harmed. We must remove it. I only hope it can be replaced by someone who has made profound intellectual and cultural contributions to society.
||I am a postdoctoral researcher at Berkeley. Kroeber's treatment of Native Americans people and their remains was abhorrent. It is perverse to memorialize Kroeber with a named building. I fully support the renaming.
||I believe that having a building named after someone is a tremendous honor, and as we learn more about history, it is irresponsible to proceed with the continuation of this honor. Please believe the people who are hurt by this honor, and rename the building after one of the many incredible Berkeley alums who have advanced equality & human rights, and make me proud to go here.
||I fully support the renaming of Kroeber Hall. Names signify honor and aspiration, and new generations of researchers should not aspire to be like Kroeber. It is chilling to learn about the disrespect and material harm he and his intellectual tradition have done and continue to do, through the erasure of the lives of Native peoples. The thought of Ishi living in a UC Berkeley campus museum in a twisted semi-dependence or captivity is really disturbing. To say the least, Berkeley should not be singling Kroeber out as a role model for excellence.
||The field of Anthropology is a particularly fraught one, whose origins are inseparable from an othering, patronizing stance toward non-white peoples. While we can recognize the difficulties of the field, we can also condemn those whose attitudes and practices actively hurt marginalized people. I support changing the name of the hall--perhaps to LeGuin Hall?
||Kroeber should absolutely be changed. However, I hope the committee takes time to look at the naming/history of Ishi Court and make sure it is named appropriately and is respectful to modern day American Indians.
As a broader note I think that it is important to contextualize the history of UC Berkeley and that the Native community should have a large say in creating art, plaques, boards etc. that honor Native American people, history, land, art, perseverance, etc.
||The proposal to un-name Kroeber Hall and letter supporting it clearly articulate the damage done by Kroeber to indigenous communities in California and beyond. Un-naming Kroeber Hall is a necessary step in the process of addressing the harms done by Kroeber and the university more broadly.
||The University must acknowledge the crimes committed against the indigenous people of California in its name and specifically by Alfred Kroeber.
||Other than just un-naming a building a great way to move forward would be to finally repatriate the personal objects and the remains of Native and Indigenous ancestors that are still in the "possession" of UC Berkeley. I know that NAGPRA and the UC system’s current policy do not include tribes that are not federally recognized, but that kind of approach is part of a greater problem that needs to be addressed if we really want to see the transformation happen within this institution. We need to operate not just by blindly submitting to the standards that the federal system has implemented with regards to this matter but really look deep into our own hearts and soul -beyond our anthropocentric views of life and the world to be able to see why this act of holding remains and "artifacts" from a specific community that continues to exist and thrive today is actually perpetrating the same kind of injustices that this institution needs to be accountable for, not just in lip service but in deeds. A new world is upon us and the spirit of many ancestors will manifest the healing we all need through the intentions that we put into action.
||It is clear that the Kroeber's legacy tells an important story about the treatment of California Native peoples. This is a story that our students should know, but it is not one that should be honored. Please assuage some of the suffering that our Native students, faculty, staff and visitors experience and remove this name immediately.
||Endorsed; the proposal's time has come.
||Kroeber and his colleagues' unethical research practices -- which came at a great cost to Indigenous peoples -- should not be celebrated by UC Berkeley. Removing his name from this building is the least Berkeley can do to begin to right the wrongs that the university itself facilitated.
||Given the clearly racist views that Kroeber espoused and racist treatment of indigenous people it is unjust that he continue to receive the distinction of having this building named after him.
||Berkeley should be a place to elevate leaders that exemplify equity, diversity, and inclusion. Kroeber does not fit this bill.
||This is an easy decision. Change the name.
||I think renaming Kroeber hall is a crucial step in decolonizing and unsettling the UC Berkeley campus. While the field of anthropology has changed, its origins are steeped in imperialism, colonialism, and white supremacy. Kroeber's contributions to the field are simultaneously significant and problematic. They should absolutely be studied in full, "warts and all". This is not something that can be done through the name of a building or even interpretive materials near the space. Kroeber has had his time and there are countless folks from the last 70 years of Berkeley's history who are deserving of honor and prestige. Ishi himself would be a better namesake for the building to acknowledge his humanity, something that Kroeber's actions did not reflect.
||As a current MSW student at UCB, the daughter of a UCB grad, and a lifelong CA resident, I am absolutely IN FAVOR of un-naming Kroeber Hall. I stand in solidarity with Native American students, faculty, staff, and others who have initiated this call for this incredibly overdue un-naming. The un-naming is a small but critical step towards dismantling the racist legacies, policies, and structures that persist today in the UC system and at UCB specifically.
||We are the future and the example for all those other staid universities. We welcome change and diversity and do what we can to make all students feel
||Renaming the building to remove any connection to Alfred Kroeber is an important step in the University's reckoning with its past and the structural racism and oppression practiced against Native Americans in California. Berkeley must listen to the pleas and demands of Native students and Native student organizations and committees (including the Berkeley Native American Advisory Council) and take a step in the right direction by un-naming the building.
||We need to stop honoring racist scientists
||I support this de-naming proposal. UC Berkeley must also comply with the letter and spirit of CalNAGPRA legislation, which requires repatriation of its enormous collection of stolen human remains (see state auditor's report here, which indicates UC Berkeley has returned only 20% of its "collections" https://auditor.ca.gov/reports/2019-047/index.html). It is shocking that the campus has not yet complied. The name of Kroeber Hall should be changed, but even more importantly, the University should return the human bodies it "collected" to their relatives. If these two actions were linked, the de-naming would be much more meaningful.
||Kroeber's legacy isn't one Berkeley should be proud of, and we should absolutely unname this building. I'm ashamed we haven't done so already.
||If Native American groups agree that the Kroeber's name should be removed from this building, then it should be done. It is as simple as that.
||We cannot continue to laud historical figures without addressing them as people, people with problematic histories. "Problematic" has become a bit of a buzzword, but what I mean by it is that we have not yet fully appreciated the person for whom this building is named. To appreciate them fully— not just as the sum of accomplishments, but as a person— we must recognize the violence perpetrated. To continue to have this building named as such would be a failure to the supposed principles of this learning institution. How can we learn if our view of history is obstructed through the normalization of a namesake for which most know nothing? To learn from history we must confront it, we must see it for all its violent reality, and then we must internalize what we have learned so that we can be better going forward. If UCB is really committed to supporting Black and indigenous students and to being a leader in encouraging innovation than we must reckon with the past and heal wounds so that we can make space for a brighter future. Un-name it.
||Indigenous people have been constantly overlooked and subjugated due to forced Western assimilation. Un-naming Kroeber Hall wouldn't undo the injustices from years of cultural genocide, however it is an essential step in acknowledging and taking responsibility of our occupation and presence on Ohlone land.
||Berkeley's buildings should honor those who represent the values our community holds dear. Alfred Kroeber's actions (grave robbing, putting a man on display in a museum) are reprehensible. Let's find a name our campus can all be proud of.
||I support the renaming for the reasons articulated by the Committee.
||The name of a building is an important symbol of what the Berkeley community values, and if it doesn't align with what many of us value and makes members of our community feel, unjustly, unwelcome, it must be removed. Having Kroeber on a building honors a legacy of white supremacist anthropology, and removing the name is one step towards identifying and dismantling the unspoken culture of structural racism that envelopes us. It is vital that we listen to Native peoples in our community as we do this.
For the future, I also largely oppose naming buildings after people.
||Krober should not be honored with a building name at the same time the university spends time and money undoing his unethical collection of materials.
||As a Native student at Berkeley it cannot be understated: this University does not welcome me. Every day I am forced to walk over the skeletal remains of ancestors that are not my own but are the ancestors of my close friends. I have to walk past not only Barrows and LeConte and the many harmful white-supremacist named buildings, but I must walk past Kroeber Hall as well, knowing the harm he has done to our community. Many anthropologists are not for the removal because of the lack of him being "racist" but ignore the biases within their own work and profession that to this day harms the lives of Indigenous people. In order to properly educate future Anthropologists we should show them that the world has changed and instead honor anthropologists that respect Indigenous people and honor our narrative above their own. Using him as a monument is mis-educating them to believing his methods were okay. They are not. Inclusion is not only for one race, and Native students at Cal need this along MUCH more work to make us feel comfortable on these campuses. Show you care about all students by renaming this building.
||As an alumnus of the Anthropology PhD program, I fully support un-naming the building that Anthropology and Art Practice share. Beyond what to me are unassailable arguments laid out in the proposal, and by the Muwekma Ohlone and Verona Band of Alameda County, who lost all federal claim and protection, as well as land based on Kroeber's anthropology, I would like to raise the question of why building names must function as memorials, and why the discipline and department at Berkeley are to be likened to a family, a kinship formation with Kroeber as its father. One thing that we teach our students is that kinship, the processes and practices and formations of relation that bind, separate, and world human and more-than-human beings, have no necessary relation to descent or the naturalized mediums of blood, substance, or genetics. It is a creative, heterogeneous, and political process, which in practice may open horizons for relation far beyond the tales of inheritance by which academics so quickly romanticize relations of mentoring and training and teaching into relations of parenthood and generation - and obscure the violences of those relations in languages of family. I would like to therefore pose the question of why disciplinary and departmental history must be recounted as a succession of names despite what anthropology as a discipline teaches about kinship. Why do we default to a family tree that preserves a fiction of direct inheritance, when both family and training might refuse the myth of lineage?
I would also like to register my support for repatriation of all human and other remains held by the department and museums of anthropology, as well as an immediate accounting of the remainder of the collection as to the provenance of museum collections, especially for potentially looted and stolen artifacts and specimens. And I should hope that the University will collaborate with the Smithsonian in repatriating the preserved brain of the man called Ishi, cremating it as was his express wish.
||The UC should find a name that better reflects our values as a community.
||Alfred Kroeber engaged in research practices that were always objectionable to many Native Americans and that society now recognizes as reprehensible and has made illegal. This includes the collection of remains and sacred funerary objects of Native American ancestors and other Indigenous people from their graves, without consent from tribes or individual descendants of Indigenous people. Kroeber also mistreated a Native American survivor of genocide whom Kroeber placed as a living exhibit in the university’s museum.
||It's really important that the campus makes all students, faculty members, guests, and anyone associated with the university feel respected. As an academic institution, we need to expect and adapt to new knowledge that may expire the previously recognized definition of great. Let's reflect the great in our society.
||We should not glorify people that exploited native populations.
||Anyone who has a human being reside in a museum to live on display like a freak show curriosity or perform on command as one does a trained seal does not deserve to be honored with a building on any campus.
||I strongly support the proposal.
||I was embarrassed and uncomfortable having classes in the building once I learned of Kroebers history. It's time to change the name now!
||I don’t know for sure but I dare speculate that it is for works done by researchers such as Professor Alfred Kroeber that we have Institutional Review Boards (IRBs). I have not seen any buildings or monuments erected or named to glorify the German Schutzstaffel (SS) officer and physician Dr. Josef Mengele. So, why do we need to have one for Professor Kroeber? It is possible to read about Professor Kroeber’s scholarly work and accomplishments in history books, just as I can read and study the works of Dr. Mengele, but we don’t need to have building(s) named after him at UC Berkeley, the number one public university in the US in 2020.
||While Kroebler is very importantfor the field of Anthropology in that he was the first ever to receive a doctorate of the field, I believe that his actions (stealing artifacts, gravesite remains, and enslavement of the man known as Ishi) are despicable and just because he was from a different time does not mean that we should judge him any lighter. Monuments have names to honor individuals but those names don't need to be eternal. Kroebler had his name honored for 100 years which I feel is enough (maybe even too much) time. Let someone else who is deserving of such honor and veneration get to have the hall named after them instead. Maybe the first Native or even specifically the first Native of the Ohlone tribe to graduate with a doctorate in Anthropology.
||I am an alumna of UC Berkeley with a BA in anthropology (1999). I am now an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno. I also study California archaeology and have worked as an archaeologist and bioarchaeologist in the Bay Area for the last two decades. I wholeheartedly support the proposal to un-name Kroeber Hall. I hope this is the first step in acknowledging past wrongs and working to better engage and collaborate with Native Americans in the university and community.
||Unname Kroeber hall and name it Nader hall
||Kroeber betrayed the man he named Ishi, even in his death by sending his brain to the Smithsonian, against's the indigenous man's wishes. No matter what Kroeber has done for the university, his name represents the legacy of Americans exploiting and dehumanizing indigenous peoples for their own intellectual gain.
||As a soon-graduating PhD candidate in the Anthropology Department, I am thrilled at the idea of the name change. And since symbolic actions--while important--are not sufficient, I demand increased support for NAGPRA repatriations. In addition, anthropology faculty should reckon with the legacy of Alfred Kroeber and other anthropologists at Berkeley who have engaged in reprehensible desecration and extraction, anthropology students should be taught this infamous legacy and this history should be acknowledged in the building.
||It's time to stop honoring perpetrators of crimes against humanity. "Demoting" them, makes an important statement of what kind of society we aspire to be.
||Thank you for highlighting the history and taking action on this!
||Out of respect and honor for Native American communities, who have been harmed time and time again by UC Berkeley, I support the un-naming of Kroeber Hall. This is one small step the University must take in pursuit of racial equity and justice.
||Kroeber was a racist man and his life's work led to extreme pain, suffering, and degradation of Native American individuals, including the man known as Ishi. His work collecting remains of Native American ancestors is a crime, and no building at UC Berkeley or otherwise should bear his name. Removing the name of the building is just one step towards demonstrating UC Berkeley's commitment to supporting Native American individuals.
||This renaming should be decided by the Ohlone people who were here before colonial occupation. The renaming should be done in conjunction with the return of native remains that are located in the building. Simply removing the name and not taking action on returning human indigenous remains to their rightful descendants would be an empty gesture and a revisionist historical undertaking.
||I think it would be great to re-name Kroeber Hall for Ishi, but I also believe Kroeber was a decent guy who may have actually been pretty progressive for his time. I appreciate that Professor Kroeber introduced Ishi and part of his culture to the world, and don't really have a problem with his name associated with the University of California.
||It is the university's responsibility to actively address the anti-Blackness that exists on our present campus and make amendments to the historical violence against BIPOC–this begins with renaming buildings of once highly-regarded individuals.
||I am a recent Cal graduate and incoming Berkeley Law student. While there are many things that make me proud to be a (double) bear, having to take multiple undergrad courses in Kroeber Hall was never one of them. It is a constant reminder of the atrocities committed against Native American communities and the continued erasure and silencing of the Native community at Cal. I am grateful to the Ethnic Studies Department for having taught me about Ishi and his capture by Kroeber. I am thankful that they are not erasing nor glorifying the history that UC Berkeley was complicit in. It was a complete slap in the face to learn about Kroeber’s inhumanity then be forced to sit in a hall named after him. It is a continued reminder that UC Berkeley doesn’t do nearly enough to support the Ethnic Studies Department. Please listen to the needs of your students of color and start making the decision to put them first. While you’re at it, comply with CA law and return the bones and sacred items of our indigenous peoples housed in the basement of Kroeber to their rightful owners. I am implore UC Berkeley to remove that white supremacist’s name from their building.
||He has come to symbolize a generation of scholars at Berkeley who failed to consider important ethical implications of their work in anthropology and archaeology.
||I am an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley and feel strongly that the university has a responsibility to reckon with its histories (and current practices) of racism, colonialism, and all other exploitative systems of power. Names carry power and it's frankly embarrassing that the university has allowed the name of a man who so clearly disrespected and exploited indigenous peoples to remain tied to the campus in any way, shape, or form for so long. If the university claims to care about its students of color, why has such a simple change been avoided all these years?
||As stated in the letter, I also believe that "Alfred Kroeber’s name does not represent the values of UC Berkeley." Removing Kroeber's name is the bare minimum that can be done to show that the campus recognizes the historic and current oppression by UC Berkeley as an institution against Native Americans. Further anti-racist action must be taken to dismantle this oppression.
||I think the merits of the proposal against Kroeber are moderate, but the merits for a better choice are more substantial. Renaming the building after Prof. Chiura Obata, who struggled against political odds to maintain his artistic vision would be empowering others who face similar struggles today. Of course, any renaming should also come with a fund to support dire renovation needs and scholarships related to the new name and cause.
||Please remove this name and rename the building to reflect the primary academic activities inside building. The new naming pattern can be flexible and change if the academic activities change. Also allows for a qualified donor to rename the building if the opportunity arises.
||Rename McNair Hall
||Consider naming it James Baldwin Hall.
||First, I believe the decision about whether to change the name of Kroeber Hall should be led by Indigenous Californians, especially people who have Berkeley/the East Bay as their homeland. Berkeley should consult with Indigenous Californians, especially Ohlone people, about their opinions on the name of Kroeber Hall. If any California Indian people object to the name, it should be changed.
Second, there are many buildings at Berkeley with names that honor white people and zero with names that honor Indigenous people. Likewise many buildings are named for professors/administrators, but none (to my knowledge) for research participants, even though social scientists rely on participants for so much of our research. Therefore I suggest renaming Kroeber Hall to Ishi Hall. The outdoor court in Dwinelle Hall currently named Ishi Court should be renamed to honor a different person.
||I am in favor of changing the name of Kroeber Hall. We have to remove all ties to hate, injustice, inequity, and oppression. We absolutely tell the truth, we tell the story, but we do not honor or support genocide, evil, hate, or oppression of any kind.
||I support the proposal to un-name Kroeber Hall. As a community, we should not memorialize people who have committed terrible acts. As the proposal states, it sends a message when we retain building names such as Kroeber Hall. It can also send a message when we change it. Let's change it.
||I see the un-naming of Kroeber Hall as one action that UC can take to not only repair the damage of genocide and its role in it, but also interrupt and hopefully disrupt the ongoing project of white settler state colonialism.
||Given the recent state audit excoriating Berkeley's handling of Native American remains, un-naming the building housing the remains he disinterred is an important step forward. www.auditor.ca.gov/reports/2019-047/index.html
||Names on buildings should reflect the current values of the university, specifically the values of diversity and inclusion.
||I'm an Art Practice major, and have spent a big portion of my time on campus working inside this building. It brings me shame to have my department's headquarters there, and it's embarrassing to take classes in a space named after someone so violently racist. The name "Kroeber" is a direct and reprehensible insult to the Native American/Indigenous students who chose to get their education at Cal. UC Berkeley needs to reckon with its legacy and its role in California's history of colonialism, racism, and violence. We should have changed the name of this building a long time ago.
||I support the move to remove the name of Kroeber from the building in order to ensure our campus continues to move towards an antiracist space that does not glorify those who have harmed members of our community. I acknowledge that this is a complicated conversation and that some may feel there are contributions from Alfred Kroeber that we ought to be grateful for. I argue that these contributions can be acknowledged in ways that better hold their complexity, especially highlighting the harm done to Native community members both past, present, and future, which is not possible with a building name that simply glorifies without inviting further understanding and action to redress past wrongs. The names on UCB buildings should reflect our community values fully and without asterisk.
||I support this
||As a staff member, it is important to me that the institution I represent be as welcoming and inclusive of all students, especially BIPOC and Latinx students who have been and continue to be underrepresented on this campus. This un-naming is a small step in this direction.
||I am a current undergraduate student at UC Berkeley. Kroeber's actions that harmed Native Americans and Indigenous People is so shameful and thus his name is not one that should be proudly displayed upon a building. No matter the work someone does for any academic subject, it does not erase the immense pain and harm they have caused. As a university, we encourage everyone to do better and implement inclusion. This building is not welcoming with Kroeber's name across the top.
||As an alumnus, I know that UC Berkeley has always been about hearing different voices and allowing for differences in opinion through healthy debate. I have read the response from the Department defending Kroeber. However, it falls in line with the general whitewashing of history. He may not have intended to cause harm and may even have done his best to be sensitive in the time he was a part of. It still is not fair to the indigenous population. We must respect their voice that his work was harmful to their culture and people, even if he thought he was actually trying to help them. Enough with naming buildings that promote our white history. Let's examine how we have, even in so much of California, played an active role in dismissing communities of color. Let the tribe determine what the building should be named.
||I am so glad that un-naming Kroeber Hall is being proposed. As outlined in the proposal, Alfred Kroeber engaged in reprehensible actions towards Indigenous people. He is not the kind of person that a UC Berkeley building should be named after. I hope that the proposal is approved so that the building can instead be named after someone who represents the values Berkeley strives for.
||i believe it is distasteful to have a campus building named after a man who stole the remains of Indigenous people and their sacred funeral items.
||The change would not only allow us to stop honoring a person that does not share our values, but also gives us the opportunity to honor someone who does.
||Rename Kroeber Hall to Ishi Hall- It's quite appropriate
||We need to teach and publicly share the story of Ishi, and other important narratives that implicate not just Kroeber himself but the entire university in settler colonialism, violence and colonial approaches to research and knowledge production. A massive public education campaign needs to accompany these de-naming processes. The de-naming process is empty without these concrete commitments to reparations and also to moving forward with a substantive critique of the paradigm that people like Kroeber represent. Past harm needs to be acknowledged and addressed, not just de-named.
||UC Berkeley should not allow for buildings or colleges to be named after individuals who do not support students and people the university claims to serve. We must uplift and empower marginalized communities on our campus, rather than force them to acknowledge and accept racial trauma on a daily basis.
||While Kroeber was a pioneer in the field of anthropology and admittedly did much to record and preserve Indigenous California languages on the verge of extinction, many of his actions were misguided and contrary to the goals and beliefs of living indigenous communities. I stand with the indigenous community’s call to rename Kroeber Hall, as they know firsthand the impact of his legacy.
||UC Berkeley should immediately and without reservation change any namesakes with which any part of its current community takes issue. That Berkeley students, staff, and visitors must walk through doors named after someone who made a spectacle and practical slave of a Native American under the guise of education is completely incongruous with Berkeley's academic mission and purported ethical standards. Rename Kroeber Hall. Find a new namesake whose actions and 'accomplishments' were not at the expense of marginalized persons' lives and autonomy.
||I am an alumnus of the UC Berkeley Rhetoric PhD program and current Assistant Professor of Asian American Studies at UCLA. I support the proposal to un-name Kroeber Hall. Kroeber Hall is named after Alfred Kroeber, who stole sacred objects and the remains of Native Americans from their graves without the consent of tribal nations or their descendants--research that would now be deemed illegal. Kroeber did so much lasting harm to Indigenous communities. It is an affront to UC Berkeley's values to keep his name on the building.
||Oppressive and racist individuals should not be immortalized. The building should be renamed after a figure who represents ideals that uplift all people, from all backgrounds and identities.
||Kroeber, like many other Anthropologists, made many critical contributions to his respective field of study. And like many other Anthropologists he also made many critical mistakes with them along the way. Most academic errors, no matter how controversially charged they may be, can simply be dismissed as routine parts of the scientific process of trial and error. We can look upon them as mistakes to learn from, move on from, and pledge to never repeat again.
However, Kroeber’s errors are not merely controversial hiccups in the legacy of science; they were fatal, racially charged judgements that indirectly spelled doom for the very people his great scientific works were based upon. Kroeber owes his fame and academic prestige to us, the Native peoples of California because his magnum opuses for which he is so renowned were based on his anthropological observations of us as a people.
Not only did he neglect to return the favor to the Native peoples who he owes his fame to, he wrote the death sentence for their tribal sovereignty by conspiring with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to deny nationhood to the Ohlone peoples (whose Berkeley’s lands belong to) as well as many other Native Californian nations. The Ohlone people are still suffering for this, still denied nationhood to this day, unable to protect their sacred sites and the bones of their ancestors. All because they did not fit his racist and exclusive views of anthropological ‘authenticity’.
Why is this man’s name continually enshrined? Plenty of Anthropologists and scientists have accomplished just as much as Kroeber without even half the racism in their legacy.
As a Native student of Kumeyaay, Chumash, Yaqui and Pima descent and a former Anthropology major at UC Berkeley, I am disgusted and disappointed.
||By keeping Kroeber's name on the building, Berkeley is directly supporting a man who brought so much pain, harm, and abuse to Indigenous people. Kroeber's illegal collection of Indigenous people's remains and dehumanization of Ishi are proof of his anti-Indigenous choices and behaviors, and his name should be removed immediately because he does not align with Berkeley's current Principles of Community.
||Kroeber's legacy is antithetical to what Cal is supposed to represent and it does not deserve to be celebrated on any of our buildings.
||YES! Un-name Kroeber and all buildings/programs/fellowships etc. venerating problematic racist, white supremacist, colonist figures. Un-naming this building would be one tiny step towards living up to our campus principles of community. Taking over more and more unceded indigenous land every year, Cal as an institution needs some deep reflection around our role in supporting and recreating the dispossession and genocide of native peoples. This is literally the least you can do.
||I support the proposal to un-name Kroeber Hall. As someone born and raised in Berkeley, I regularly visited Kroeber Hall and the Museum of Anthropology as a child and digested a "whitewashed" version of the Ishi story that disguised Kroeber's atrocious behavior. A reckoning with this history is long overdue. A re-naming of the building and a re-framing of the Kroeber narrative is a service not only to our campus, but to the surrounding community and the generations of schoolchildren who will continue to visit the Museum.
||Kroeber is clearly a man who was undeserving of power in his lifetime and is undeserving of recognition in our lifetime. Stop naming buildings after people, especially in exchange for donations/gifts.
||I am in full support of the removal of the name Kroeber Hall and a process to re-name the building in a way that is in alignment with UC Berkeley's values.
||I am in full support of renaming this building, as a university that prides itself in diversity, inclusivity and equity, upholding these names are counterintuitive the mission of the university. We have an obligation to dismantle systemic racism, that includes coming to terms with the injustices that the university has perpetuated.
||No amount of history can justify rewarding, memorializing, and glorifying figures who we would not agree with the values of today.
||Keeping the name Kroeber is to bestow honor on problematic scholar. Removing the name sends an inclusive message that displays genuine good will toward Native Americans and all people. The good will must be followed up by genuine action toward improving access and inclusion of native peoples.
||I agree that it is important to begin honoring the legacies of people who chose to fight against colonialism and forced servitude, and not be named after those who promoted those wretched ideals. Our esteemed institution should probably return those sacred items that Kroeber robbed from burial sites as well, no?
||What kind of work does a building's name do -- in the world we live in? in the world we'd like to build together? I think we can do better and in a way that is accountable to the communities we serve.
||Even if it's not actually true in practice, to many students the names of buildings seem like something which it should be easy for the administration to change. So not changing a building's name, when it honors someone who in life would not have respected Berkeley's current study body, gives students the false impression that the administration does not respect, or does not care about, or has contempt for, the student body. So it seems to be in the best interests of both students and the administration if building names, if they're named after people, only honor people who would respect and appreciate the current student body.
||I am a graduate student at Cal and I also completed my undergraduate degree at this institution. I minored in Anthropology and was inspired by Anthropology professors who challenge the status quo such as late Saba Mahmood and Stefania Pandolfo. Even though I do not believe Kroeber needs to be "cancelled" as an intellectual and contributor to the field of Anthropology, I believe we must name this building after a member of a community who helped "open the door" to any anthropologist to examine and understand their culture. We can be grateful to anthropologists for helping document and preserve cultural assets but we must HONOR the actual members of such cultures, not just have them as objects of study. One of these individuals must be honored on the face of this building.
||I am in favor to un-name Kroeber Hall as an indigenous Cal Alumni class of 2020. There is no room to further disrespect my ancestors and those of Native American/ Indigenous students who must see this name glorified on campus. Please un-name Kroeber Hall.
||I believe that the current name of Kroeber Hall unjustly honors a person whose actions promoted racist systems against indigenous people in California. I realize that Kroeber contributed to scholarship around Native Americans in California, which was an important effort. However, his actions in regards to collecting Native American remains and declaring the Ohlone tribe to be culturally extinct have had a deleterious effect on those communities. Continuing to honor this legacy is especially harmful to the Indigenous campus community members and undermines both the integrity of UC Berkeley and the inclusive campus climate we are trying to build. I therefore request that Kroeber Hall be un-named and a name new be chosen in the future.
||Removing the names of white supremacists from campus buildings is an important step toward building a more equitable, inclusive university
||This is a long-awaited change! Please expedite the removal of this name as we dismantle symbols of oppression on campus.
||Continuing to uphold this name will maintain harm to our indigenous community and their ancestors. The legacy of Kroeber is not aligned with our campus' principles and values of community and belonging.
||Please remove to better reflect our values of diversity, inclusion, and belonging
||I stand with the ACTION! #BLM
||Kroeber does not represent our values and is a hugely problematic and racist figure
||Stop holding up symbols of white supremacy
||why is this even under review? the guy's whole career is built off exploiting a native american person. berkeley should never have named it after the asshole in the first place
||Kroeber's declaration of the Ohlone people as "extinct" has had horrible ramifications for Indigenous people in California, including making it extremely difficult for them to obtain rights to artifacts and human remains that were unethically excavated and displayed without regard for Indigenous consent. As the University of California exists on stolen Ohlone land, this is especially insulting. To deny the request to remove Kroeber's name from this building would be to show blatant and purposeful disregard toward Indigenous students of UC Berkeley and Indigenous people all over California and America. UC Berkeley prides itself on being a progressive institution, and a way to show this would be re-naming this building to honor Indigenous Californians rather than a man who caused them untold pain and difficulty.
||Solidarity looks like recognition of the part you’ve played to perpetuate pain. Un name this hall.
||The un-naming of this building is long overdue. Kroeber extracted volumes worth of knowledge from nearly every Indigenous nation to call California home and to name a building after him memorializes this exploitation and extraction. There is no reason that his name should grace a building based on the anthropological tradition and the importance and vitality of the work conducted in this building should not be degraded through association with his hateful legacy. One of his primary informants, Yurok Robert Spott, was my great-great uncle and I can think of a better way to honor his contributions and the contributions of Indigenous informants like him than through un-naming this hall and recognizing them in some memorializing fashion instead. For these reasons, I cannot recommend more strongly the un-naming of Kr**b*r Hall.
||I would like for it to named Ishi Hall or simply Anthropology Hall
||Alfred Louis Kroeber used incredibly problematic methods in conducting research on Ishi and indigenous Califorians during the 20th century. Ishi especially was problematically used as a "living specimen." We can still acknowledge that Kroeber founded the anthropology department here at UC Berkeley while not placing Kroeber or his work on a pedestal. That is excessive and does not align with the values of the Anthropology department or our larger campus community.
||In favor to un-name Kroeber Hall for obvious reasons.
||The university should not be honoring racists
||UC Berkeley has a long history of complicity in racism and genocide. The least we can do is to fully reckon with this history and the implications of whose names we choose to honor on campus buildings. It is completely inappropriate for a campus building to be named in honor of Alfred Kroeber. His research practices were racist and extremely harmful to indigenous communities in California. UC Berkeley's continued celebration of his work and legacy through this building name is a direct affront to indigenous students on this campus and to surrounding Ohlone communities. It is proof that UC Berkeley has not addressed or worked to undo its active role in settler colonialism and genocide in California. Removing Kroeber's name is a critical first step to do so.
||I’m writing in my capacity as an individual faculty member and as Chair of the Art Practice department, which is housed within Kroeber Hall. As Chair, I frequently hear from students, as well as from faculty and staff, about the oppressive weight of working in a building that is directly linked to the captivity and desecration of Native Americans. I expect you will receive many letters to that effect, as well as others in defense of Alfred Kroeber. Here, I wish to approach the question of un-naming from other, but related perspectives.
1. The name Kroeber is named specifically for the department of Anthropology, and as such erases any visibility of the Art Practice department, which occupies half of the building. The naming only for anthropology has legitimated that department’s past territorial encroachments and its occasional claims to the whole building. This is a disservice to the stellar history of the Art Practice department, as well as to recent and current attempts by the two departments to encourage disciplinary and collegial connections.
2. In the past, the subliminal message sent to any person of color (and I include myself) is that this building is not a place where they will learn or impart their knowledge. This is instead a place where they will be objects of study. With more recent awareness, with increased knowledge dissemination from people of color, and with the recent impetus and demands from protests around the country, that message of exclusion and objecthood has become increasingly explicit, as shameful as the “whites only” signs that we hope to never again see.
3. The Art department includes within its pedagogy the methodological possibilities of auto-ethnography as self-positioning, “in which people undertake to describe themselves in ways that engage with representations others have made of them” (Mary Louise Pratt). The name of Kroeber–and again, regardless of the man’s achievements or failings–denies this capacity for self-knowledge as a rebuttal against being ethnographic objects. As Berkeley grapples with what it takes to encourage and maintain diversity, we have to at least begin with the message that this is where Indigenous students, Black students, Brown students can learn, not the place where others will learn about them after their demise.
It is past time.
||We have so many talented alumni and an abundance of knowledge about BPIOC who we should celebrate instead.
||I support the proposal to un-name Kroeber Hall due to the incredible harm he caused the Native American community. His name has not and does not deserve to stand on the grounds of UC Berkeley merit, much less on land of the Native American people.
||I believe we should un-name Kroeber Hall in order to honor the legacy of Native American students who fought against their cultural erasure. Un-naming Kroeber Hall would send the message that the voices of Native American students matter.
||Please allow Indigenous students, representatives, leaders and tribal members, etc. to decide the naming of Kroeber Hall. If they determine that the building should be renamed, then let them chose a name that honors Native Californians.
||It is time to acknowledge that while Kroeber was an impactful individual within UC Berkeley Anthropology, his legacy is a complicated one. His name and his connection to the indigenous community, through his push for Salvage Anthropology and Ishi, is of negative association to the indigenous community. UC Berkeley's Anthropology dept today does not hold the same values of Kroeber and his first generation of students in the early 1900s, we have grown to realize the negative impacts of Salvage Anthropology and Kroeberian practice. Why should we continue to honor a name whose values are no longer appropriate and not what we want our dept to be defined as? The Kroeberian legacy has deep, harmful ties to the indigenous community, a part of which is land that we occupy, Ohlone land. Keeping Kroeber's name only shows that we do not care for the indigenous community that is in pain from Kroeber's legacy, it shows that we would rather have the name of some legacy, too engrossed in the past, than respect the demands of the present. That's not what UC Berkeley stands for. We keep moving forward, address the wrongs of the past, and this is a moment that needs to be addressed and corrected.
||I strongly support renaming Kroeber Hall.
Renaming Kroeber Hall at UC Berkeley
After consulting with the Muwekma Tribal Leadership, we, the undersigned support renaming the U.C. Berkeley Anthropology Department building as Muwekma Ohlone Hall.
This would honor the documented aboriginal tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area in general and the indigenous Chochenyo Ohlone-speaking tribal groups who historically occupied the lands of, and surrounding, U.C. Berkeley; and whom are directly descended from several of the East Bay tribes of this region. This decision would indeed represent a powerful symbol representing the survival, achievements and continuous existence of California Indians, against the colonial machinations of the “Politics of Erasure” enacted by elements of the dominant society.
Dr. Kroeber’s scholarly and ethical record was certainly a mixed one and there has been and remains ample cause for strong critique of his work and his legacies. These critiques have generally focused upon four areas:
1) Dr. Kroeber’s relationship with the man known as Ishi, a survivor of the 19th century state-sponsored genocidal assault on Indigenous peoples of California. Critiques have focused upon the conditions of Ishi’s life in the anthropology museum in San Francisco, including the arrangement of public appearances at the museum that may have exposed Ishi to the tuberculosis that killed him. While Kroeber and the other anthropologists developed warm relations with Ishi, he also continued to remain a scientific specimen for study. Kroeber failed to see to a proper burial for Ishi after his body was autopsied against both Kroeber and Ishi's express wishes. Only due to efforts of tribal activists more than eighty years later were Ishi's remains laid to rest in his native homeland.
2) Dr. Kroeber’s scholarship, in his massive 1925 tome, Handbook of the Indians of California and many other publications about Indigenous peoples of California, focused on reconstructing pre-Contact lifeways even as it systematically elided the structured characteristics and consequences of the genocidal campaigns against those Indigenous peoples. Thus while Dr. Kroeber was in a strong position to document the genocide, he and his students instead catalogued and categorized the Indigenous peoples of California to suit their own scholarly agenda.
3) Dr. Kroeber’s Handbook of the Indians of California featured a number of “extinction sentences” applied to particular groups including the ancestors of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe, who were an unambiguously federally recognized tribe at that time. These extinction sentences were deployed to characterize descendants who could not provide Dr. Kroeber and his students with the linguistic, cultural and other ethnographic data which they were seeking to re-create the desired pre-Contact picture. It is not possible to substantively link Dr. Kroeber’s extinction sentence to the federal government’s decision to drop the Muwekma Ohlone ancestors from the list of recognized tribes in 1927. However, the legacy of the extinction sentence was strongly felt for many decades as anthropologists and archaeologists alike dispensed with Ohlone human remains and associated funerary objects uncovered during the post-World War II construction booms in the Bay Area, with the justification, citing Dr. Kroeber’s book, that no descendants existed.
4) Dr. Kroeber oversaw the collection of thousands of remains of Native peoples for archaeological study. Such excavations without permission of living descendants were commonplace in the archaeology of the time, including of ancient Greek and Egyptian sites. Yet the fact that Native people had already been brutalized by white conquest made the digging up of graves especially insensitive. The University of California of Berkeley should hasten the long overdue efforts to repatriate remains and find proper resting places for ones that are unidentified.
At the same time, it is important to recall that Dr. Kroeber had documented features of the Muwekma community’s vibrant lifeways before 1925. Phoebe Apperson Hearst invited Dr. Kroeber to visit and interview members of the Muwekma community residing on, and adjacent to, her Hacienda del Pozo de Verona property. Notwithstanding the 1925 extinction sentence, Dr. Kroeber, along with other UC Berkeley anthropologists, had interviewed a number of Muwekma/Verona Band community members for the various languages spoken on both the Alisal (Pleasanton) and El Molino (Niles) rancherias, including identifying the linguistic term “Muwekma” meaning “the People” published in the Chumash and Costanoan Languages in 1910 (UCPAAE: Vol 9., No. 2). It should also be noted that the sound recordings, dictionaries, myths, and other cultural practices recorded by Kroeber and the other anthropologists has become a vital resource for contemporary native revitalization efforts.
Dr. Kroeber was also an ally of Native California especially during the California Claims Hearings (1954-1955) and a defender of racial equality ahead of his time. Dr. Kroeber and Dr. Heizer later included in their testimony the survivorship of the Mission San Jose [Verona Band Community] in their testimony during the California Claims hearings in San Francisco which was published under the title “Continuity of Indian Population in California from 1770/1850 to 1955”, University. of California Archaeological. Research Facility, Contribution No. 9, pp. 1-22, 1970 (Berkeley).
We believe that renaming the anthropology building as Muwekma Ohlone Hall would be an overdue recognition for the aboriginal owners of the unceded land where the university has been established. It would also recognize the contributions of ancestors and living descendants of the Muwekma Ohlone to the field of anthropology, to the local communities and cities, and to the nation. Although the renaming of the building is the first priority, we believe that a lecture hall, courtyard, or exhibit space ought to still to bear the name of Alfred Kroeber. To caricature the anthropology department's founder as an evil colonial exploiter and fail to acknowledge his achievements is to deny him the modicum of fairness and accuracy that all the dead surely deserve. We also strongly suggest the overdue naming of at least one of several prominent campus landmarks in the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe’s Chochenyo language, in further recognition that the university lies on illegitimately seized tribal land.
All of these changes would be implemented in a spirit of contemporary ethics in higher education, remembrance and acknowledgment of the legacy of the ancestors and the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ documented descendants of the historic, previously federally recognized, Verona Band of Alameda County, moving forward into the future.
Alan Leventhal, Professor Emeritus, San Jose State University
Les W. Field, Professor of Anthropology, University of New Mexico
Orin Starn, Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Duke University
||l agree with the importance of removing names of white supremacists from every arena of the UC Berkeley campus. The historical significance of these individuals, and what they represent, have wide spread implications for both students and the public, especially for those who belong to the same communities that directly suffered from the belief system and values of such “historical” figures. So long as their names remain on the University’s buildings and facilities, their legacy and association with the school perseveres. We need to send the right message that we, as an institution, condemn hateful and racist practices.
||Dear UC Berkeley Community:
I strongly support un-naming Kroeber Hall, as was recently done with the Law Building. Alfred Kroeber is not somebody we should be honoring with a building. I urge everyone to read the Proposal to un-name Kroeber Hall and consider the evidence it presents that Alfred Kroeber's legacy is incompatible with UC Berkeley's stated values and mission.
There is nothing new about this idea and it's shameful that the University of California has taken so long to act, particularly in light of its continued failure to repatriate Native American remains and artifacts. Please see the California State Auditor's June 2020 report, "The University of California Is Not Adequately Overseeing Its Return of Native American Remains and Artifacts."
According to the audit, UC Berkeley has returned only ~20%, while Los Angeles has repatriated almost all of the Native American remains and artifacts that had been in its possession. Stanford University began repatriating remains and artifacts over 30 years ago - "Stanford was an important player in the nationwide movement toward repatriation, which was gaining traction in the 1980s."
Stanford University has also changed the names of several buildings formerly named after Junipero Serra, now Sally Ride House and Carolyn Lewis Attneave House.
UC Berkeley has a lot of work to do on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, but renaming Kroeber, LeConte, and Barrows is one small, relatively easy step in the right direction. Another important step would be saving the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, which does important research into issues impacting communities of color and provides important resources and support for students of color, including Native and Indigenous students. For those unaware, UC Berkeley has decided to de-fund ISSI at a time when, in my opinion, its work could not possibly be more important. Thank you for reading.
||Dear Building Name Review Committee,
The official proposal submitted on July 1, 2020 on un-naming Kroeber Hall is an important issue for anthropology undergraduates studying at UC Berkeley. As a student body, we recognize that Kroeber Hall is named after Alfred Kroeber, an American cultural anthropologist that founded the anthropology department at UC Berkeley.
A few officers of the Anthropology Undergraduate Association decided to conduct a vote for the anthropology undergraduate community on whether or not they support, stand neutral, or oppose the proposal to un-name Kroeber from Kroeber Hall. The results demonstrate that over the majority of anthropology undergraduates that participated in this vote support the decision to un-name Kroeber Hall.
The vote was conducted from July 13 through July 16 and was sent to declared anthropology majors and minors. The guidelines for making a decision were that there would be at least 20 votes and that over 50 percent of voters decided to support, stand neutral, or oppose the proposal. The poll received 58 responses from declared anthropology undergraduate students, with about 66 percent of voters supporting the proposal to un-name Kroeber Hall.
Given that Kroeber Hall is the home of the anthropology department and that this vote received numerous responses, we hope that the Building Name Review Committee listens to anthropology undergraduates. Many of us have and will be individually vocal throughout this process; we hope that you will take the time to engage with us.
Now, the majority of anthropology undergraduates that voted are asking you to take action—we demand that the Building Name Review Committee un-name Kroeber Hall immediately.
Anthropology Undergraduates in Favor of Un-Naming Kroeber
*AUA as an RSO does not endorse this decision.
||The home of the anthropology department home should reflect the practice of anthropology now and of the ethics we strive for, not practices that harm BIPOC communities. Alfred Kroeber disrespected Native Americans by mistreating Ishi; by allowing his name to be part of this hall, it actively hurts Native American communities.
||Alfred and Theodora Kroeber were my great-grandparents. I am writing to support the un-naming of Kroeber Hall.
I make this statement from a certain distance. I have no direct ties to the University of California, nor any professional training in anthropology. I grew up aware of Alfred and Theodora as personalities in one branch of my family, but I was not raised to think of myself as a steward of their legacies. I am broadly familiar with the work each of them did, and with their intertwined influence, but I am not writing to detail or defend their records. There are other parties, closer to their work and to the communities it has impacted, that are better positioned to speak to the complexities of their actions and their importance today.
I do recognize, however, the ways my ancestors’ work proceeded within systems of white supremacy and served to reproduce those systems, even as they made efforts to repudiate racist ideologies. I recognize the ways the project of salvage ethnography naturalized the presumption of Indigenous “disappearance”. I hesitate to discuss the ways my forebears were entangled with the life and story of the Yahi man called Ishi—it is a narrative that two generations of my family have had a defining hand in shaping, and so I prefer to leave public retellings to other voices—but I recognize that the association is a deeply painful one.
My support for un-naming is also informed by wider histories. I acknowledge hundreds of years of still-ongoing Indigenous genocide and settler colonialism—the ways these forces shaped the nation-state that now occupies this land, shaped the worldviews and lifeways I was born into, and continue to shape the society I navigate today. My father and his father grew up in Huichin, on the unceded ancestral land of the Chochenyo-speaking Ohlone, where Kroeber Hall and the Berkeley campus sit, and they were grateful to call it home. To some degree, the presence of our family name on the building makes a kind of land claim—a claim about the right to occupy unceded land, a claim that should not be maintained.
I make these acknowledgements of harm in a wider context of Native agency, resistance, and resurgence. Insofar as the symbolic weight of my last name might influence this discussion, I hope it can bolster wider efforts toward institutional changework, repair, and decolonization, at the University and beyond.
I understand that this committee is officially tasked with addressing only the question of un-naming, not re-naming. These questions cannot, of course, be so cleanly separated, and if the University moves toward un-naming, I hope it will do so in order to embrace the further ethical obligations that emerge from that choice. It seems clear to me that a decision to un-name will, in turn, require a re-naming process conducted in transparent and robust dialogue with Native students and faculty, as well as Native communities beyond the University (if not also representatives from other groups that have historically been subjects of the anthropological gaze). It seems likewise clear that these groups should not be asked to undertake the considerable work of assembly and deliberation for a single symbolic gesture. Rather, any re-naming process must proceed within a larger set of _material_ reparative actions on the part of the University, including (but not limited to) the long-deferred repatriation of Indigenous remains.
As I close, I should be clear that I do not speak for any other members of my extended family, but I would also like to acknowledge the important dialogues that I have had with many of them as I prepared this statement. It has been in some ways difficult to consider removal in this moment, as statues of Christopher Columbus, Junipero Serra, and Confederate generals are being toppled and amidst calls for the names of avowed white supremacists to be removed from other buildings on campus. It is not easy to have Alfred Kroeber’s name come down in such bad company—alongside the figureheads and agents of racist ideologies that Boasian anthropology directly opposed and often worked to dismantle.
Speaking personally, however, I don’t believe there will be a perfect moment, when the optics feel just right and the language attends to everyone’s sensitivities. The many different parties to this un-naming may well hold incommensurable standards for what is appropriate. I do not fully align with the un-naming proposal as written, but I would not want whatever discomfort I may feel to obstruct this process. I am content to carry that discomfort as un-naming moves forward. I hope it is generative to say so here.
Thank you for your attention.
On the proposed un-naming of Kroeber Hall.
Comment by James Clifford
History of Consciousness Department
UC Santa Cruz
I am responding to the request from the UC Berkeley Building Name Review Committee for comments on the proposal to remove the name Kroeber from what is now Kroeber Hall.
I write as a scholar who has worked for the past fifty years on the history of anthropology and ethnographic museums. The relationship of these institutions to colonialism has been central to my project, as has the growing recognition of indigenous resurgence and authority. In my most recent book, Returns (2013) a 93-page chapter is devoted to Ishi, to the Kroeber-Ishi relationship, and to the successive tellings and retellings of “Ishi’s Story” by diverse Natives and non-Natives. The research for this chapter spanned a decade which saw the movement to repatriate Ishi’s remains. I attended public meetings organized by California Indians and talked informally with knowledgeable individuals. I thus have some grounds for the opinions I will briefly state below. But I hasten to add that I claim no special authority. My own access to knowledge in a complex, changing time is, like everyone’s, situated and partial.
My conclusion with respect to the proposal agrees with that provided by Professor Andrew Garrett. His well-documented and thoughtfully balanced opinion commands respect. I agree that the time is right to change the name of Kroeber Hall. But I would urge that this be done, and the building renamed, in a spirit of critical generosity. The legacy of A.L. Kroeber, and twentieth-century anthropology, is much more mixed, both positive and negative, than the Proposal allows. For me, the strongest reason for renaming is the creation of a welcoming environment for Native students at Berkeley. They deserve to encounter symbols with which they can identify. I would like to believe that the change can be done with fairness and a sense of proportionality. Whatever his failings, there is much in Kroeber’s legacy that is praiseworthy and that is contributing to positive developments in the current indigenous renewal he could not imagine but that he would surely have welcomed.
The Proposal reads like a prosecutorial brief, one-sided. Fair enough, it is making a case. I will just add some facts that balance the story. It gives me no pleasure to question this account since I support its overall goal to advance the decolonization of UC (a settler-colonial university founded in the wake of genocidal killings and dispossessions). I wholeheartedly agree with the report’s final paragraph.
The brief against Kroeber has three parts. 1) his active involvement in the collection (looting) of human remains and funereal objects 2) his “cruel, degrading, racist” treatment of Ishi, and 3) the “death sentence” he pronounced on the Bay Area Ohlone, reflecting the colonialist assumptions of “salvage anthropology.”
If I were on the jury my verdict would be 1) guilty as charged 2) innocent 3) tragically mistaken, but not culpable. However, to frame the issue before us in terms of guilt or innocence is misleading, a distortion of the historical (as opposed to merely personal) complexity that we need to recognize.
1--Tony Platt’s essential book, Grave Matters, establishes that Kroeber, while he did not personally engage in grave-robbing, did organize and encourage the practice. He argues, along with the Proposal, that this was always immoral. We can agree with this, while recognizing that many liberal, enlightened people at the time found this kind of “collecting” acceptable in the name of science. This common opinion has only recently been reversed, bringing public opinion into agreement with what Native Californians have long felt. With this in mind, a small dose of historical relativity might temper our justifiable condemnation of the practice.
2--The Report states that Kroeber “mistreated” the “captured” man called Ishi and made him a “living exhibit” in the anthropological museum. Everything about Ishi’s story is more complicated: Was he “captured?” To say this with certainty is as problematic as claiming—as was often said—that he was “giving himself up,” surrendering, to White civilization after decades of hiding. What is certain is his exhaustion. Beyond that, the speculation about his intentions--where exactly he was going--depends on being inside his head, and no-one, then or now, has access.
He was the only speaker of his language, and he declined to talk about his time in hiding. The name “Ishi” was not something simply imposed by Kroeber. It was a gesture of respect, a way of naming him in his language without pressing for the “real” name(s) that were to be kept secret. “Ishi” was thus a name of convenience, rather like the various nicknames that “Ishi” invented for the anthropologists he lived with, including the “Big Chief” Kroeber. Was he exploited as a “living exhibit”? Many witnesses record that he enjoyed his archery and craft demonstrations, bestowing arrowheads on visiting children. He was also an enthusiastic ethnographic “informant”—at least on the topics he was willing to share. He recorded a lot of Yahi traditional stories and patiently worked with anthropologists and linguists on their (partial) translation. Kroeber and his associates were eager to gain as much information as they could from a precious witness. Ishi went along with them, though it’s doubtful he did so in the name of science. What his vision of posterity was is a matter for speculation. But his recorded words, those that are comprehensible, today form part of a living Native Californian heritage.
Ishi was given the opportunity to leave the Museum and join a Native community. He repeatedly declined. Much evidence supports the conclusion that he was content with his life in San Francisco. Given the terrible violence he had seen, no doubt he felt lucky to be alive, in a context where his language and culture were respected. He made the best of a bad history.
Kroeber was very attached to Ishi. He made some condescending comments about the Indian who came under his protection early in their relationship. But this was before he had come to know the man who, on multiple occasions, he referred to with genuine respect. Ishi’s death from TB, and the autopsy that was performed, over Kroeber’s strenuous objection, contributed to his personal breakdown and retirement from anthropology for several years. It is in this context that his most unforgivable “mistreatment,” sending Ishi’s brain to the Smithsonian Institution’s collection, may be comprehensible. Kroeber returned to Berkeley and found that the brain had been preserved and not cremated with the other remains. What should be done with it? We would all agree, today, that Ishi’s body would, ideally, have been returned to his people. But his family was gone. his surviving distant relatives dispersed. Kroeber knew of no Native community prepared to receive the remains. (It would be seventy years before this solution became a concrete possibility.) Kroeber had written “Science be damned,” when he opposed the autopsy, urging his colleagues to “stand by our friend.” But Kroeber was a man of science. Perhaps the brain could be of some scientific use. (It may be recalled that cultural anthropology was, at this time, anti-racist, that Kroeber’s teacher, Franz Boas, disproved bad racial science using evidence from physical remains.) In retrospect, Kroeber’s decision was unfortunate, but in the context of his long relationship with Ishi it is, I would argue, understandable.
3--Kroeber was clearly mistaken when he called the Bay Area Native bands “extinct.” It is certainly understandable that these tribal survivors feel pain and anger at his verdict. But here too, some historical sensitivity is needed. Kroeber’s Handbook of 1925 summarized research from the prior two decades. At that time the disappearance of many California tribes, who had been decimated by conquest, disease, and dispossession, was a plausible conclusion. The demographic facts were stark. The inventive survival and later renewal of dispersed peoples that we now recognize and celebrate was far from apparent. Moreover, Kroeber worked with ideas of cultural authenticity and essentialism that today have been criticized and abandoned in the anthropological traditions he founded. The model of culture that he assumed was a sharp critique of the eugenics that was dominant in many intellectual and political contexts. But its idealist, ahistorical frame created a blindness to the adaptive, changing lives of contemporary Indians. Kroeber’s mistaken conclusion about Bay Area Indians no doubt helped create a climate of opinion that presupposed their disappearance (though it did not, it seems, directly influence the tribal termination decisions of the 1950s).
Kroeber did not, in fact, consign California Indians to a romanticized, but vanished past. In 1954, at the age of 78 and in weakened health, he testified before the Indian Land Claims Commission in support of a group of “Indians of California” suing to establish Native rights to appropriated land. The principal witness for the plaintiffs, Kroeber’s ten days of testimony were crucial in gaining a victory for the Indians. (During my research on Ishi, I worked in the Bancroft Library where I encountered very extensive files of careful notes, maps and documents which he prepared for his detailed testimony.)
Kroeber and “salvage anthropology” present a mixed legacy. The presumed inevitability of indigenous death/assimilation was consonant with the founding mythology of a settler state starting from scratch in an empty land. But while the salvage collecting of traditional knowledge and language data was often premised on assumptions that would turn out to be false, it did preserve a precious archive of tradition and language that serves today as a resource for cultural renewal. (See Professor Garrett’s comment.) The assumptions of salvage anthropology have now been pretty thoroughly criticized and abandoned in a discipline increasingly devoted to collaborative research and the analysis of changing relations of power. Kroeber’s own ethnography, as Thomas Buckley has shown in an excellent critical account, could be heavy-handed and evoke resistance. But it also forged relationships of friendship and long-term loyalty. At least one Yurok Elder, quoted by Buckley, expressed unambiguous gratitude for the Berkeley anthropologists’ preservation of traditional knowledge.
Critics of Kroeber ask why he was not more forthright about the genocide in post-Gold Rush California. Was this “moral cowardice” as has been said? Certainly, his avoidance of hard truths sits uncomfortably with our historical vision and political views today. Was there a personal, psychological dimension to the repression of sad experiences? Perhaps. Did it represent complicity with the historical innocence that needed to be claimed for the new, settler university where he was employed? Yes, in a weak, general sense. At Berkeley there was plenty of complicity to go around—as the name “Hearst” in several honored places still attests.
The current movement for changing names raises important questions about our differently-positioned assessments of a shared, sometimes ugly, history. In conclusion, I would like to urge that we not succumb to the blame games and scorched-earth moralisms so prevalent in today’s political culture. I have recommended, above, an attitude of “critical generosity,” especially with respect to ambiguous legacies like that of Kroeber and cultural anthropology. This means, in the current context, renaming Kroeber Hall in a way that honors Native Californian resilience but that also finds ways to publicly recognize, and understand, the continuing contributions of its former namesake and his changed discipline. This kind of thoughtful, informed, critical, commemoration would be especially appropriate in an educational institution.
||I am far from the first student to express concern about this naming: A 2018 article by the Daily Californian's editorial staff touches on the namesake of Kroeber Hall while discussing Berkeley's lack of tangible progress towards supporting Native Californians:
However, as an undergrad anthropology major, I wanted to express my own thoughts on the importance of un-naming Kroeber hall. Though Alfred Kroeber is a preeminent figure in the history of U.S. anthropology and U.C. Berkeley, the work he is best known for has contributed to pervasive myths around the "Vanishing Indian", and the fetishization and exploitation of Native peoples in the wake of colonialist expansion. For the sake of brevity, I won't lay out an entire record of Kroeber's career here. Instead, I encourage those who reflexively defend this naming to seek out Native perspectives on Ishi's life and the legacy of Kroeber's work.
While I pursue my anthropology education at U.C. Berkeley, I am conscious that the work of my forebears has contributed to social violence against Indigenous peoples around the world. In order to prevent further harm, it is vital that we prioritize the voices of the people that our field has historically wronged-- and if these voices urge us to challenge the glorification of people Berkeley's academics have long held as idols, we owe it to them to listen.
Berkeley's administration has issued the following statement in response to the current Black Lives Matter protest movement against racial injustice:
"we are more than just witnesses; we are more than just allies (people who just study and understand the theory of racism); we are co-conspirators working to overturn institutional racism. We take risks and use our power and influence to improve the lives of our community members, especially those most vulnerable. Recent events only strengthen our resolve." https://hr.berkeley.edu/people-culture-anti-racism-statement
Black people and Native peoples in this country have been subjected to institutionalized racist violence from its very inception. Today, CDC data indicates that Native Americans are killed by police at the highest rate per-capita of any racial or ethnic group in the United States: https://www.cnn.com/2017/11/10/us/native-lives-matter/index.html.
If we at Berkeley are to truly lay claim to that title of co-conspirator against institutional racism, our co-conspiracy must also be in solidarity with the Native community. This involves self-reflection on ways in which Berkeley has been and continues to be complicit in inflicting harm, including but not limited to the memorialization of Kroeber.
||I am a second year law student and a member of the Native American Law Students Association (NALSA). In addition to believing that the collection on indigenous remains at UC Berkeley should be returned to the tribes from which they were taken, I believe that Cal, as an institution that strives to do right, should remove Kroeber's name, and acknowledge the people who were hurt by his actions. The law school was also unnamed this past year, and I think the unnaming of the law school sent a signal to the community and other institutions that Cal is a conscious institution, acknowledging problematic histories and doing something about them.
||Please add my comments to those supporting the un-naming of Kroeber Hall. As an ethnogeographer and historian dealing with northwestern California for the last 20 years, I have come to regard Alfred L. Kroeber as having failed in his duty to treat the Indians of this area with decency and respect. In addition to his having headed a department that collected Indian remains and excavated sites of significance, his own work was contaminated by an offensive and prejudicial sense of cultural superiority best expressed by this sentence from the preface to his Handbook of the Indians of California:
This book . . . is not a history in the usual sense of a record of events. The vast bulk of even the significant happenings in the lives of uncivilized tribes are irrecoverable. For the past century our knowledge is slight; previous to that there is complete obscurity. Nor do the careers of savages afford many instances of sufficient intrinsic importance to make their chronicling worthwhile [emphasis added].
Thank you for considering my comments.
||Our building names should represent our values
||remove the name it's racist and it's that simple
||I also support this proposal.
||Since my doctoral studies at UC Berkeley from 2008-2015, I've found the name of Kroeber Hall disturbing, and walking into the building itself a disturbing experience as Kroeber's history has not been adequately acknowledged within the space. As an Asian American, I cannot even begin to imagine the effect that this may have on Native American students, faculty, and visitors. It's long overdue to rename the building after someone whose legacy will have a positive, uplifting, inspiring, and empowering effect on our campus.
||A man who engaged in grossly unethical, racist, belittling behavior under the guise of research does not deserve to have a building at Berkeley named after him.
||Alfred Kroeber's legacy is one of the most challenging aspects of the history of the University of California and the State of California. While it is important to learn that history, maintaining Kroeber's name on a campus building honors a history of genocide, enslavement, and oppression of California's indigenous peoples. I hold a BS in anthropology and certainly have benefited from Kroeber's contributions to the field. However, anthropology historically has been rooted in colonialism and has been systematically weaponized against non-European peoples and Kroeber played a significant role in this. While mainstream anthropology today provides insights into the diversity and complexity of humanity, the roots of colonialism and racism continue to challenge the field. The un-naming of Kroeber Hall is a small, but crucial step to confronting our challenging history in California and UC's relationship with the indigenous community, as well as recognizing that anthropology has largely moved beyond its colonial roots. Ishi, the Yahi, and all Californians deserve better than the legacy glorified by this building name.
||I write in strong support of un-naming Kroeber Hall. Retaining this name would be inexcusable and would represent an racist affront to Indigenous and Native American people.
||I support the removal of the name Kroeber from campus buildings.
||Indigenous students, staff, and faculty have donated untold hours of unpaid labor to get Kroeber Hall unnamed. They no doubt would rather have spent those hours of their mortal lives doing something other than explaining to the non-Indigenous majority at Berkeley how much Alfred Kroeber's racist actions and Berkeley's recognition of him have hurt them. Please just do it.
||I agree that un-naming Kroeber Hall signals an important effort to be a more welcoming and inclusive campus. We need to stop perpetuating generational bigotry, and start healing.
||I support removing Kroeber's name from the building.
||The University would best wake up from its long standing and sedimenting compliance with a violent and oppressive status quo. You have an opportunity to take clearer stand on the continuing project of colonialism and the way it is referenced and celebrated here. Please honor Native life in any and every way you can. This is an unmistakable commitment. Do not waste the organizers' brilliance on this issue any longer. Please repair what you can. This, you can easily*** do.
||I think it would be in the university's best interest to distance itself from figures of historically known injustice.
||Kroeber is indeed famous for his 'accomplishments' but we can now see they helped to perpetuate colonial relationships of academic study and Native peoples. A name change helps to signal that the era of "studying" Indigenous peoples has passed and that begins by unnaming spaces that celebrate those attitudes. Hopefully this can lead to the university making tangible reform as well: funding for Native students, hiring of Native faculty, giving Shuumi, returning the remains and items that were stolen from Indigenous nations.
||Changing the name would be one step in dismantling institutional racism and settler colonialism at Berkeley. Changing the name won't complete this journey, but is an essential step in the process. Berkeley needs to quit resting on a few moments of student activism from mid-20th century as hallmark "progressive" identity and look critically at its whole history and current structures as they prioritize the needs and experience of Native American students, staff, faculty, and community members today.
||I am in favor of rename Kroeber Hall
||Kroeber Hall should be un-named in order to recognize the harm it has perpetrated against Native Americans, educate the campus community about Kroeber's unethical and dehumanizing research practices, and create a more inclusive and supportive environment for Native American students, faculty, staff, and visitors. Furthermore, work should be done to repair the university's relationship with Native Californians and Indigenous people more generally. Un-naming Kroeber hall is an important first step.
||This important symbolic gesture of un-naming must be followed by actual substantive structural change. To start, UC Berkeley could return the Native American bones held at Hearst Museum to their relatives, actually provide a substantial Native American community space on campus, and hire more Native faculty.
||The racist legacy of Alfred Kroeber should be condemned, not honored.
||We want UCB to be a campus that is welcoming to ALL groups. Any name that that is associated with a person who has harmed any community does not deserve to be represented on our campus.
||As this proposal and supporting letter make clear, upholding Kroeber's legacy is actively harmful to Native American students, faculty, staff, and visitors to this campus. Kroeber Hall, as currently named, sends a message in opposition to the values the university claims to hold. Renaming this building is a crucial step in acknowledging the university's complicity in longstanding Indigenous dispossession and provides an opening for community dialogue and potential repair.
||Kroeber treated Native American people, remains, and artifacts reprehensibly and does not deserve to be glorified on campus.
||Please do something now. We CANNOT glorify a racist person and their actions on this campus.
||We must be vigilant of how we perpetuate a system of racism through both overt and covert means. We must be willing to learn and address past mistakes.
||As an alumna of the Department of Anthropology at UC Berkeley and an advocate for the re-imagining of systems of oppression and colonization, a re-imagining which this very university helped to develop in me during my undergraduate education, it is critical that all voices be heard, respected, valued, and raised up. It is also critical that all identities, and all bodies, living bodies and those bodies and artifacts of the ancestors no longer alive, are given the respect that they were denied in the past. No excuses. If we don't move forward and learn from our past, we are reinforcing atrocities that we claim in our discipline to be attempting to deconstruct. Inaction is support of oppression. Inaction is support of a racist and extremely problematic legacy that you have the capacity to revise.
||I am wholeheartedly in favor of unnaming Kroeber Hall.
||This is long overdue. Honestly it is the least we can be doing as a society/campus community to begin to right all of the injustices done towards the Native community.
||I am in favor of rename Kroeber Hall to one which is more inclusive and reflexes the struggle and commitment to creating a more beautiful, healthier and enlightened world.
||Kroeber violated the autonomy and sanctity of indigenous people by taking ancestral remains without tribes' or descendents' consent. Taking another indigenous person captive and displaying them in a museum is also reprehensible. Listen to indigenous people and immediately unname all buildings named after racists, colonists, and otherwise violent people.
||Kroeber's research and subsequent reputation as an Anthropologist came at the expense of a traumatized Native American man known as Ishi, the last surviving member of his entire Yahi people, which had been completely destroyed: the victims of genocide at the hands of white settlers who murdered them and their shot the deer, et.al. that were Yahi sources of food in the early 1900's.
Kroeber sought to extract and exploit the last remaining shred of human integrity and dignity from Ishi by mining his memory, language, spiritual beliefs and practices, historical observations, his total cultural/social/enviro-technological life-style in what was left of his natural environment. Kroeber literally "dogged him out", made him wear western suits and a tie, while romanticizing his existence as a "barbarous savage" in his book: "Ishi, the Last Aborigine: The Effects of Civilization on a Genuine Survivor of Stone Age Barbarism" (1912) by [Alfred L. Kroeber]
Thereafter Kroeber basically left him to die of Tuberculosis, alone and uncompensated, while Kroeber's published works on Ishi and other indigenous peoples made him the elite scholar of the racist, genocidal Anthropocene researchers.
If anyone's name belongs on that building, it should be Ishi's, for certainly Alfred Kroeber would not have had a clue about the wealth of human philosophy and the richness of the Yahi's institutions had not Ishi told him.