Hidden beneath the cultural and social surface of California is a story of natural abundance, human conflict, pain and suffering, and rebirth; it is the story of California Indians. The California Indian Museum tells this story, because it is a story that just may untie us from the bonds of racism and hatred, and may give the children of California and the world an opportunity to appreciate and respect each other.
The purpose of the California Indian Museum and Cultural Center is to culturally enrich and benefit the people of California and the general public. The goals of the Museum and Cultural Center are to educate the public about California Indian history and cultures, to showcase California Indian cultures, to enhance and facilitate these cultures and traditions through educational and cultural activities, to preserve and protect California Indian cultural and intellectual properties, and to develop relationships with other indigenous groups.
On May 25, 1996 the California Indian Museum and Cultural Center was officially established at the Presidio of San Francisco. This former Army Post is world renowned for its spectacular beauty and historical significance. What is less known is that its creation by the Spanish in 1776, came at a grave cost to the area’s indigenous people. Contact with Europeans brought disease and cultural destruction to the native population. The Presidio was built on land taken without compensation, and by forced Indian labor. Thus, the establishment of this project in the Presidio marked a historic turning point in the history of both the Presidio and the California Indians. However, circumstances have changed. Unfortunately, on June 7, 2001, we decided to withdraw our presence from the Presidio. The Presidio Trust constructively evicted us through its indifference to our goals and those of the Indian people of California. As of November 1, 2000, escrow closed on the building in Santa Rosa, CA.
The Museum provides California Indians and the public with a first class museum facility in which to portray California Indian history and culture from an Indian perspective. In addition, the museum showcases and encourages the present-day renaissance of California Indian culture, affirming its survival and continued vitality in the face of extreme adversity. Finally, the museum provides opportunities for Native Americans to receive training and experience in a variety of fields such as museum direction, curation, design, and interpretation.
The Museum was developed by the National Indian Justice Center (NIJC), a 100% Indian owned and operated nonprofit corporation. Originally founded in 1983 as a resource for tribal courts, the NIJC has steadily expanded its mission and is now known as a major force for improving the quality of life and the quality of justice in Indian country.