Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

March 14, 2012

UC Berkeley theater apologizes for 'Ishi' production

UC Berkeley theater department apologizes for ‘Ishi’ production

By Peter Glazer, UC Berkeley Theater

On behalf of the department of theater, dance, and performance studies, as its chair, I want to deeply apologize for any pain our production has caused.

The controversy “Ishi” has provoked is something that we take very seriously, and we take full responsibility for our actions and decisions as a department.

We appreciate that Native American students at UC Berkeley reached out to us directly to initiate a dialogue — dialogue that we were remiss in not initiating ourselves at the time the production was being considered. As a department, we are committed to open discourse, sincere engagement with important political issues and with the many communities we serve and fulfillment of our teaching mission in all that we do. We are also committed, from this point forward, to reaching out to historically underrepresented minorities who may be represented in our work.

As a theatre-producing entity located within a university, we see the conversations, candid discussion and public engagement that happen around our productions as being a central fulfillment of our mission. The difficult and painful witnessing on March 9 was a beginning. To this end, there will be opportunities for additional dialogue in the coming weeks.

Ours is a department of teachers: of acting, design, dance, performance studies, directing, technical theater, stage management, literature, theory, playwriting – the list goes on. We are also a department of remarkable students, who learn and practice all those skills under the tutelage of our brilliant teachers and staff. Our students are not implicated in the decisions which led to this controversy.

At the post-show discussion, our community witnessed the sharing of stories and histories that will haunt us and that we will never forget. I hope that by being present for such witnessing, none of us will again commit such sins of omission and exclusion.

Peter Glazer is an associate professor and department chair in the department of theater, dance and performance studies

Also see: Smithsonian's racist collection of skulls
The history of the Smithsonian Institution, like the history taught in US classrooms, is largely one of deception and fiction

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

The Smithsonian's dark history includes the collection of American Indian brains for a racist experiment that claimed to reveal the relationship between race and intelligence. Brains were collected for bounty. One of the massacres where this sinister collection of brains was carried out was at Sand Creek in Colorado, a brutal massacre where fleeing Cheyenne and Arapaho women and children were murdered in 1864. The following article is republished, so the facts will not be forgotten, with a special thank you to Pawnee professor James Riding In who provided much of the information. After the publication of this article, I wrote the Smithsonian and asked if it was true that more than 10,000 Indian skulls remained at the Smithsonian. There was no response. --Brenda Norrell

Smithsonian harbored Ishi's brain
by Brenda Norrell
(March 19, 1999)

The Smithsonian Institution admits, after a probe and nearly a century
of secrecy, that it housed the brain of Ishi, a Yahi Indian who
walked into Oroville, Calif., in 1911.

But the admission comes only after American Indians demanded a
befitting burial and University of California researchers probed the
whereabouts of Ishi's remains, that the Smithsonian admits that Ishi's
brain was in a warehouse at the National Museum of Natural History.
Read the article:

1 comment:

iaincwil said...

I am 65 y/O and live in Argyll Scotland and have watched the film of Ishi last of his tribe! it taught me a lot about beliefs, culture etc. also the criminal acts committed against Native Americans,
I agree that from this people will have learned the same as I have and never allow it to happen again! and do everything possible to help stop it going on now!
if the story is never told how will people ever learn,
I do hope that you will publish this reply so that people will know the story of Ishi has been of some good and people the world over have seen and learned from it
michael beck wilkins, Argyll Scotland UK.