Indigenous students are one of the most underrepresented communities not only at UC Santa Cruz but throughout all of higher education. That’s why the American Indian Resource Center (AIRC) works hard to represent the Indigenous community with events like IndigeFest. 

Held this year in the Quarry Amphitheater on April 2, the Sophía García-Robles Memorial IndigeFest is an annual event hosted by UCSC’s AIRC celebrating Indigenous communities on campus.

IndigeFest helps create a sense of belonging for Native students on campus, where less than one percent of the student body identifies as Native American.

“For me, as a Native student, being able to have events where you can create community is important because it can be really hard to find each other,” said Jordan Perkins, AIRC intern and member of the Mi’kmaq tribe.

Previously named Drum Feast until the change to IndigeFest in 2021, the event honors Sophía García-Robles, a Native woman who served 27 years at the Financial Aid Office at UCSC before her passing in 2010.

The event featured music and dance performances from Kulintang Dialect, Grupo Folklorico Los Mejicas, RicoR, All Nations Singers, and White Hawk Indian Council. One of the event’s sponsors, Cowell Coffee Shop, provided food and refreshments, including frybread.

Numerous Indigenous organizations and vendors were featured, including the American Indian Veterans Association, BeadingSovereignty, Drea’s Custom Crafts, Great Nations Pictures, Friends of Juristac, and NativeMade44. 

At the event’s close, the previous AIRC Director, Dr. Rebecca Hernandez, was honored with a blanketing ceremony for her contributions to the Resource Center and the campus’ Indigenous community. Dr. Hernandez now serves as Community Archivist for Special Collections and Archives at the McHenry Library.

With the help of the AIRC, UCSC’s Native community continues to assert and celebrate their presence on campus and in academia.

“To have an event like this where it’s a celebration of who we are, not being sad about the violence against our community, is really great to have,” said Perkins.