What’s in a name?

Sept. 24, 2018, 8:45 p.m.

As a proud graduate of Stanford, where I majored in cultural anthropology, my first step toward becoming an advocate and filmmaker on behalf of Native peoples was in 1985, when I produced and directed the Academy Award-winning documentary “Broken Rainbow” about the Hopi-Navajo land dispute, which was created by the federal government to gain access to mineral resources under tribal lands.

I am gratified by Stanford’s decision to remove all mentions of Father Junipero Serra from campus structures. That is a courageous, if overdue, decision.

However, I wonder if replacing Serra’s name with that of Jane Stanford is truly the way forward. Last month, Stanford Magazine revealed that Mrs. Stanford actually limited the enrollment of women on campus and ultimately considered banning them from the University all together! While Mrs. Stanford certainly deserves credit for her role in the founding of the University, her later views on co-education should, I believe, be taken into consideration as the school goes about re-naming features on campus.

I suggest that the faculty and students at the Native American Studies Center be consulted and that Stanford resolve to honor the Native peoples whose land and lives were so adversely affected by first the Spanish and then the Anglo-American conquest of California. Coast Miwok, Costanoan, Esselen and Ohlone are among such names that would serve to inspire students to learn more about what actually happened in California. Theirs is a tragic story that has simply not been adequately told or understood. Isn’t it they who should replace Father Serra on the buildings and streets of Stanford?

— Victoria Mudd ’68


Contact Victoria Mudd at [email protected].

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