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Community Voices: Native American Heritage Month
My name is Gabriel Duncan. I am the founder and principle researcher of the Alameda Native History Project. I am a recognized descendant of the Utu Utu Gwaitu Benton Hot Springs Paiute Tribe, a Federally Recognized Native American Tribe in Benton Hot Springs, California. I was adopted out of my tribe, and born & raised in the city of Alameda, California.

Throughout my childhood, I learned a lot about:

• How to pronounce French place names like “Versailles”
• What false-front Victorian architecture is
• Who the first Governor of California was (not that he was a bad person)
• Who Fremont, Lafayette, Washington were
• Who Samuel Clemens, Jack London, and William Shakespeare were
 
But I never learned about:

• Ishi, the Last Yahi;
• Rosemary Cambra and the Ohlone Indian Cemetery
• Chief Tenaya and the Curse of Yosemite Park
• Wovoka, and the Ghost Dance
• Chief Standing Bear's Trial
• The real story of Pocahontas, Sacagawea, or Thanksgiving

School never showed me any images of myself that I could be proud of the same way it showed pictures of George Washington crossing the Delaware.

The lives and lived experiences of real Native American People were never represented in my schools.The only mentions I ever found in textbooks were single sentences and brief descriptions that offered no information, story, or pictures of who I was was, or where I came from. Indigenous knowledge or history was constantly glazed over or brushed aside as unimportant and irrelevant.

In fact: my textbooks told me that California Indians were extinct. That we had all disappeared. But, how could that be possible?

Because of that, a large part of the Alameda Native History Project has been a healing journey; a concerted effort to createstanding memorials, and caches of information, so Native American children no longer have to exist in the shadows and margins of the history of our own continent but instead can learn:

• California Indians are some of the most diverse and adaptive people in the entire world
• California Indigenous People had more tribes, and spoke more languages, than the rest of the United States, combined
• California Native Americans are resilient, and have survived occupation by three separate
groups: Spanish, Mexican, and American

Our contributions to the world around us continue to go unseen because our “permaculture” fits
seamlessly into the ecosystem. We are the Zero Waste, Leave No Trace culture engineers need to create sustainable civilizations and (hopefully) restore our rapidly degrading environment.

Indigenous Knowledge deserves to be recognized as a valid, multidisciplinary collection of information and practices developed and passed down through generations, since time immemorial.

Our stories deserve to be incorporated into our society's history with the same weight and impetus
European colonizers' history is.

When you acknowledge Alameda is unceded land—occupied territory—belonging to the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area, honor them by also educating students about their 10,000+ year history in the San Francisco Bay Area.
 
Here are some resources that can help with that: