Augmented reality walking tour at Santa Clara University brings Indigenous stories to life

Dustin Dorsey Image
Tuesday, October 10, 2023
Indigenous People AR walking tour introduced at Bay Area university
Indigenous People's Day was celebrated with members of the Muwekma Ohlone introducing an augmented reality walking tour at Santa Clara University.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- A day to honor, celebrate and never forget. Indigenous People's Day is being recognized on Santa Clara University's campus with events to teach and explain the culture of the tribes that call this land home.

"It's very important for us to be able to educate the public and talk about our language, our history, our culture and our connection to the area," Muwekma Ohlone Tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area Vice Chairwoman Monica V. Arellano said.

"We're trying to deepen our relationship but also deepen our understanding. And what does it mean for us to continue to honor that legacy on this campus," Santa Clara University Office for Diversity and Inclusion Senior Director Raymond Plaza said.

Members of the Muwekma Ohlone attended the day of teaching here at SCU, a bittersweet acknowledgement of the history of their people here.

Mission Santa Clara represents violent colonialism for the Ohlone and other Native Californians.

MORE: 1969 Occupation of Alcatraz: How Native Americans took over former prison and ignited a movement

The occupation brought new life, tragic death, and a struggle for power. And in the end, it started a national debate on Native American rights that inspired generations and forever changed public opinion and changed public policy.

Current Santa Clara student and member of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe Isabella Amne Gomez says recognizing Indigenous People's day is a step forward.

"These things are helpful to restore and heal our community and to heal the generational trauma that we've endured," Gomez said. "But it also serves to show that there's a lot of work to be done, not only here, but in the Bay Area as a whole."

Part of that work is to highlight that these tribe members are still here - and the University is using technology to do that.

MORE: What is Indigenous Peoples Day? A day of celebration, protest and reclaiming history

Several Santa Clara University departments partnered with Ohlone tribes once native to land this campus is on to bring their stories to life with the use of augmented reality on cellphones.

The Thámien Ohlone AR Tour transforms the SCU campus back to what it was thousands of years ago.

MORE: Bay Area's indigenous community builds a better future by reconnecting with their past

The history of indigenous peoples in the Bay Area is complicated and not always pretty. But the dark past is serving as inspiration for a brighter future for that community.

Three stops on the tour were launched Monday, but soon visitors will be able to scan QR codes across campus to learn the stories that these tribe members want people to never forget.

"Just knowing that our people's story and how resilient they have been, and that we are today to be able to tell their story and be their voice, my heart is very happy," Muwekma Ohlone Tribe of San Francisco Bay Area Former Councilmember Gloria Arellano Gomez said.

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