Native Hubs

Culture, Community, and Belonging in Silicon Valley and Beyond

Native Hubs

Book Pages: 288 Illustrations: 9 b&w photos Published: July 2007

American Studies, Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Native and Indigenous Studies

Most Native Americans in the United States live in cities, where many find themselves caught in a bind, neither afforded the full rights granted U.S. citizens nor allowed full access to the tribal programs and resources—particularly health care services—provided to Native Americans living on reservations. A scholar and a member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, Renya K. Ramirez investigates how urban Native Americans negotiate what she argues is, in effect, a transnational existence. Through an ethnographic account of the Native American community in California’s Silicon Valley and beyond, Ramirez explores the ways that urban Indians have pressed their tribes, local institutions, and the federal government to expand conventional notions of citizenship.

Ramirez’s ethnography revolves around the Paiute American activist Laverne Roberts’s notion of the “hub,” a space that allows for the creation of a sense of belonging away from a geographic center. Ramirez describes “hub-making” activities in Silicon Valley, including sweat lodge ceremonies, powwows, and American Indian Alliance meetings, gatherings at which urban Indians reinforce bonds of social belonging and forge intertribal alliances. She examines the struggle of the Muwekma Ohlone, a tribe aboriginal to the San Francisco Bay area, to maintain a sense of community without a land base and to be recognized as a tribe by the federal government. She considers the crucial role of Native women within urban indigenous communities; a 2004 meeting in which Native Americans from Mexico and the United States discussed cross-border indigenous rights activism; and the ways that young Native Americans in Silicon Valley experience race and ethnicity, especially in relation to the area’s large Chicano community. A unique and important exploration of diaspora, transnationalism, identity, belonging, and community, Native Hubs is intended for scholars and activists alike.


Native Hubs should start a much longer conversation about Native people and the vast networks that have developed over time, linking tribal lands with cities.” — Nicolas G. Rosenthal, Pacific Historical Review

“[Native Hubs] will be of interest to those engaged with questions of indigeneity, settler colonialism, gender, political recognition, and historical and contemporary cases of transnationalism. Native Hubs will be of particular interest to those engaged with histories found within (and moving outside of) California. In short, Ramirez has written a ‘breakout’ book in the anthropology of Native North America for the analytics and ethnography that it works with and the terrain that it covers, uncovers, and strives for.” — Audra Simpson, American Ethnologist

“The first book-length anthropological treatment of the very different Native groups co-habiting urban California places and spaces in the early twenty-first century. . . . An interesting and important contribution.” — Journal of Anthropological Research

“As a woman of Winnebago, Ojibwe, and white ancestry who was raised in Silicon Valley, Ramirez thoughtfully negotiates her social position as a scholar in her own community. By incorporating her field notes and long slices of narrative into her text, Ramirez employs a polyvocal methodology that emphasizes human agency.” — Alison Fields, Ethnohistory

“In the end, Ramirez’s conceptualization extends the understanding of urban Native Americans, not as a vanishing, beaten people without culture and homeland but as a vibrant, animating force in the urban milieu.” — G. H. Grandbois, American Indian Culture and Research Journal

“Ramirez’s work on urban natives . . . adds an important and original dimension to theoretical frameworks for understanding urban cultural groups. . . . [T]his book has strengths that should attract scholars from a variety of disciplines.” — Evelyn J. Peters, Progress in Human Geography

“This welcome, innovative ethnographic study examines the Indian perspective on the experiences of Indians living in Northern California’s Silicon Valley. Unlike most population group studies, this is a poignant, heartfelt, intuitive study that does not reduce the people being studied to faceless, nameless subjects . . . . Historians, sociologists, and ethnographers will be attracted to this study, though due to the compelling content as well as the author’s unique ability to communicate complex ideas in a manner that is easily understood, public libraries should also consider this book for their collections. Highly recommended.” — T. Maxwell-Long, Choice

“Renya K. Ramirez makes compelling use of ethnographic interviews to explore broad issues of cultural citizenship and transnational migration. Her analysis of Laverne Roberts’s notion of ‘hubs’ connecting Native people across time and space is a significant contribution to the all too sparse scholarship on urban American Indian communities.” — Susan Applegate Krouse, Director of the American Indian Studies Program, Michigan State University


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Renya K. Ramirez is Assistant Professor of American Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

1. Disciplinary Forces and Resistance: The Silicon Valley and Beyond 27

2. Gathering Together in Hubs: Claiming Home and the Sacred in an Urban Area 58

3. Laverne Roberts’s Relocation Story: Through the Hub 84

4. Who Are the “Real Indians”? Use of Hubs by Muwekma Ohlones and Relocated Native Americans 102

5. Empowerment and Identity from the Hub: Indigenous Women from Mexico and the United States 126

6. “Without Papers”: A Transnational Hub on the Rights of Indigenous Communities 155

7. Reinvigorating Indigenous Culture in Native Hubs: Urban Indian Young People
Epilogue 171

Epilogue 199

Notes 209

Bibliography 241

Index 263
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4030-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4006-5
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