PODCAST: Berkeley Talks: How Native women challenged a 1900s Bay Area assimilation program

Saturday, November 7, 2020

This episode of Berkeley Talks is a 2019 interview on KALX’s The Graduates with Katie Keliiaa, a graduate student in UC Berkeley’s Department of Ethnic Studies. In this interview, Keliiaa discusses her research on the Bay Area Outing Program, an early 20th century assimilation program that took Native American girls and women out of their tribal lands and brought them to the Bay Area to perform domestic work.

“You study outing programs that sent Native American women to specifically this area, the Bay Area, right?” asks Andrew Saintsing, a graduate student in Berkeley’s Department of Integrative Biology who hosts and produces The Graduates.

“Yes — the Bay Area,” says Keliiaa, “… boarding schools pop up all throughout the nation and they all operate a form of outing program … sending children out. And so what’s kind of unique about the Bay Area Outing Program, what I research, is it started down the street on Prince Street here in Berkeley. So it’s literally, it’s got its roots right here in Berkeley, in the East Bay Area.

“And what it does is it runs independently from any specific boarding school. It starts funneling girls from Western-based boarding schools. So, a lot of the girls first came from Stewart Indian school in Carson City, Nevada. A lot of them came from Sherman. Girls also came from Chemawa, which is another boarding school in Oregon. It was this whole process of funneling girls, specifically to work as living housemates in the area.”

This episode of The Graduates won fourth place for Best Regularly Scheduled Entertainment Program in CBI’s 2020 National Student Production Awards.

Listen to the full interview in Berkeley Talks episode #100: “How Native women challenged a 1900s Bay Area assimilation program.”

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