Intertribal Friendship House: An Urban Rez

By Hannah Meier, Jordon Dabney, and Charlotte Atkins ’17, students in Andrea Cartwright’s Native American Literature Seminar

On November 24th, the Native American Literature Seminar went to the Intertribal Friendship House. This community center is dedicated to preserving Native American culture and giving Native Americans in the Bay Area a place to interact with each other.

The original purpose of the Intertribal Friendship House was to aid the Native Americans that were relocated to the Bay Area by helping them build community ties and become a home for Native American activism. Now, it is mainly a place for the community to come together and help each other with whatever they need.

We were hosted by an Indian activist named Kris Longoria for the majority of the day. Our field trip started with an introduction to Native American tradition with a sage burning. After our blessing, we were given a tour of the Intertribal Friendship House. One of the most memorable parts of the house were the different murals, one of which was painted by a seventeen-year-old boy named Tido and another young man. We later met Tido and he told us about what the mural meant, and why they chose the images they used.

Throughout the day, Ms. Longoria talked to us about the occupation of Alcatraz, the myths and facts about Native Americans, and the cultural appropriation that Indians have to deal with today. She gave us a tour of the garden, and we each got a sample of one of their herbs. At the end of the day, we saw the elders in the community get free canned goods.

All in all learning, about the Intertribal Friendship House gave the class a better understanding of the urban Native American community, and a new outlet to enact change.

Photo credit: From the Intertribal Friendship House website.