A Berkeley magazine celebrating native culture turns 25

It took Linda Yamane three years to make her intricate tribal Ohlone basket. Photo: Tim Thomas

By Hannah Long

Ohlone artist Linda Yamane has spent the last three years weaving 20,000 stitches and thousands of feathers and beads into a traditional tribal basket. Yamane is the first artist to follow the Ohlone basketweaving tradition in over 150 years, and her work displays just the enthusiasm and dedication to Indian culture that the magazine News From Native California celebrates.

This magazine, which was started in 1987 by Malcolm Margolin, author and founder of Berkeley’s Heyday Books, features articles, artwork, and a calendar of events dedicated to the native culture of California. The magazine’s 25th anniversary, along with the unveiling of Yamane’s basket, will be celebrated this Saturday at the Oakland Museum of California.

The anniversary party will include a welcoming speech by Yamane, conversation with Margolin, and traditional Indian singing, dancing, and music. Many artists and basketweavers will also display their work and have a chance to teach the public about their art.


News From Native California began as a one-page flier which Margolin created to publicize native cultural events. Lillian Fleer, the magazine’s current outreach and events coordinator, explains that the publication evolved from there: “They began by adding art, and then a few articles. Since then it has grown into a full magazine, and now the focus is on celebrating the arts and culture of native California people.”

News from Native California magazine features articles, artwork, and a calendar of events dedicated to the native culture of California

The magazine has about 2,000 subscribers throughout California and the United States, and is also sold at a variety of bookstores and newsstands. Fleer says that the magazine is unique in both content and structure. “We are a center for native culture in California and because we have so many connections we serve as a reference point. Also, we don’t have staff writers so all of our stories are written by community members. This gives them a voice and platform to express their ideas.”

Fleer says that the magazine’s Berkeley location is ideal because it provides relatively easy access to Indian communities across California. Contributions by UC Berkeley professors and conversation with Berkeley’s intellectuals also enrich the magazine’s content. In turn, News From Native California has proved to be an invaluable source to create community and teach about native culture.

Leanna Hinton, professor emerita of linguistics at UC Berkeley, says the magazine has played a vital role in her career and life: “If it weren’t for Malcolm Margolin and News From Native California, I might not have found the connections to Native California which have given me so much personal pleasure and such a sense of fulfillment in my career as a linguist.”

Hinton used to write a regular article for the magazine, which later became a book about the languages of California Indians. “Writing for News From Native California helped me to network with California Indians, find good friends, and come to understand more than I otherwise ever would have about the languages and history of California.”


For Fleer, it is appreciation such as this that fuels News From Native California because her goal is simply to publish what people want to read. “We’re always open to suggestions and changes. The magazine will surely continue to evolve, whether that means more online or more art. I just want to make a magazine that is useful and loved. That will ensure another 25 years for us.”

News From Native California’s anniversary party will take place from 1-3 on Saturday, July 28th at the Oakland Museum of California. It is open to the public.

Related:
Snapshot: Malcolm Margolin, founder Heyday Books [01.11.12]
Heyday Books: Give an alternative Christmas present [12.18.09]

To find out about more events in Berkeley and nearby, check out Berkeleyside’s Events Calendar. We also encourage you to submit your own events.