Hastings Legacy: Recognition and Reconciliation

In September 2020, UC Hastings Law completed a three-year project to examine founder Serranus Clinton Hastings’ involvement in mass killings of Native Americans in California’s Eden and Round valleys during the mid-19th century and to determine how best to address the legacy of the Hastings name with meaningful action.

In a report delivered to the UC Hastings Board of Directors on September 11, 2020, Chancellor and Dean David Faigman wrote, “The plan I propose responds to past crimes by acknowledging truth, honoring the memory of the victims, uplifting their descendants, and building bridges where none existed before. We have already begun a dialogue with the Yuki people—the tribe most directly targeted by Serranus Hastings and his agents—in an effort to define opportunities for collaboration, growth, understanding, and friendship. The path forward outlined here permits the College to confront its past and pursue a future that is consistent with our mission and ideals of public service.”

These are the 12 initiatives UC Hastings Law has decided to implement:

  1. Form a nonprofit organization, a 501(c)(3) entity, in association with, and jointly governed by Yuki descendants selected by the government of the Round Valley Indian Tribes to provide an organizational structure to raise capital, organize pro bono legal and other support, assist tribal leadership with federal, state and county matters, water and property rights, economic development and efforts to meet the social needs of the community;
  2. Dedicate a permanent and public memorial to the Yuki people at an appropriate location on the Hastings campus, with display panels, historical explanations and cultural presentations;
  3. Provide a fully functional, interactive public website to allow dissemination of the College’s approach, to seek public input and to keep the public advised of historical, academic, and programmatic work to address the broader issues and the restorative justice agenda;
  4. Establish clinical or experiential educational programs for our students and those of other UC campuses to address the specific needs of residents of Round Valley, including the possibility of a center for pro bono legal assistance in tribal legal matters and public law assistance that could be staffed with student interns, faculty leadership and pro bono contributors;
  5. Collaborate with Governor Newsom’s Tribal Advisor to engage with, and contribute to, that office and the newly formed Truth and Healing Council, which is working to clarify the historical record of mistreatment, violence and neglect of Native Americans in California;
  6. Organize pro bono attorneys with a connection to Hastings to assist in mutually agreed upon goals and objectives;
  7. Assist tribal leaders, where possible, with other community needs such as local education and curriculum, preservation of the Yuki legacy with an emphasis on youth, preservation of tribal oral traditions and stories, and advancement in teaching and preserving native languages;
  8. Assist with fundraising and the legal aspects of establishing a museum or cultural center in Round Valley, along with a project for protection of sacred sites and repatriation of artifacts and human remains;
  9. Highlight the injustices of the past by bringing attention to the public at large and the Hastings community with a lecture series, guest speakers, tribal elders, dealing with “Righting the Wrongs”;
  10. Support the collaboration of Hastings staff with tribal members to seek grant opportunities from public and private sources to address issues and concerns of tribal leadership;
  11. Establish an Indian Program and related academic and educational programs at Hastings, available to all students interested in studying Indian Law. The goal of these programs is the encouragement of scholarship, educational growth, opportunity and support for students, and recruitment of qualified individuals from the Round Valley Tribes and/or Yuki descendants for legal education and career opportunities in law;
  12. Honor and commemorate the Yuki people by publicizing these efforts by opinion and editorial pieces, perhaps individually or jointly written with a representative of the Yuki descendants, to acknowledge the tragic history of the Round Valley community and to encourage reconciliation through restorative justice.