San Francisco Public Library Honors Local Indigenous Peoples in November


Media Contact: Kate Patterson  


First Person Celebration features FREE virtual programs and book lists for all ages

San Francisco, CA — San Francisco Public Library honors local Indigenous Peoples during November with a series of free programs for all ages.

“As the sign on Alcatraz says: you are on Indian Land,” says San Francisco Poet Laureate Kim Shuck (Tsalagi /Euro-American). “Here in Ramaytush territory, territory that was also the endpoint of the relocation programs that send Indigenous people to cities, we have one of the largest and most diverse Native populations in the country.  We are still here. Come hear some of our varied voices speaking our own truths, sharing our art, our thoughts, and our histories.”

Programs for adults include a reading series in honor the 51st anniversary of the American Indian Occupation of Alcatraz led by the editors of the award-winning anthology Red Indian Road West: Native American Poetry from California, Kurt Schweigman (Oglala Sioux Lakota) and Lucille Lang Day (Wampanoag), on November 9, 6 p.m. Readers include contributors Nanette Bradley Deetz (Dakoka, Lakota, Cherokee), Jewelle Gomez (Ioway, Wampanoag), Senna Heyatwin (Choctaw), Stephen Meadows (Ohlone) and Linda Noel (Konkow (Koyoonk’auwi)). Just as the “Indians of All Tribes” who occupied Alcatraz 51 years ago represented many Indigenous nations, the poets in Red Indian Road West, have spent significant portions of their lives in California and represent both local and national tribes. Participants will be treated to readings from the anthology and new poems inspired by Alcatraz and the Native American experience in California.

On November 12 at 6 p.m., join Poet Laureate Kim Shuck for the monthly Poem Jam featuring other acclaimed Indigenous laureates, past and present. Linda Noel, former Poet Laureate of Ukiah, Denise Low, former Poet Laureate of the State of Kansas and Georgina Marie, current Poet Laureate of Lake County will share their poems and a little conversation.

On November 20 at 12 p.m., the Library partners with Voice of Witness (VOW), an award-winning nonprofit dedicated to advancing human rights, to celebrate the launch of their latest title in the VOW Book Series, How We Go Home: Voices from Indigenous North America. The VOW Book Series is renowned for depicting human rights issues through the edited oral histories of people (VOW narrators) who represent those deeply impacted and who are often at the heart of solutions to address injustice. The virtual program will feature members of VOW and narrators Sara Sinclair, oral historian, writer and educator of Cree-Ojibwe and settler descent and Ashley Hemmersan, an enrolled member of the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, whose reservation spans the states of California, Arizona and Nevada. Hemmersan is a strategic specialist in multi-state cross-jurisdictional Development and Management of Tribal Economies. The public is also invited to continue the conversation into December with the On the Same Page book club discussion, which will feature Voices of Witness, How We Go Home, December 14, 7 p.m.

For youth, on November 18 at 3 p.m., the Library teams up with National Park Service Ranger Fatima Colindres who will share stories steeped in the rich cultural traditions and history of the Ohlone, the original inhabitants of the San Francisco Bay Area. She will demonstrate how to play Staves, an Ohlone game of chance played with six sticks from the elderberry or willow tree and decorated on the rounded side in geometric patterns in red, white and black. The program will include a lesson on how to make staves as well as an introduction to indigenous plants found in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Lastly, the Library has curated book and film lists that feature Indigenous Peoples. For more information, visit


October 9, 2020