Former Saddleback student gives lecture on Hupa tribe

David Gutman

 Former Saddleback student Brian Gleeson discussed anthropology and the Hupa Indian tribe in the Health Science building Thursday.


Gleeson attended Saddleback College in 1997 and transferred to another community college in 1999 before transferring to San Francisco State University for the rest of his studies. At Saddleback he studied anthropology and enjoyed it so much that he decided to make the science his career.


Now married with a young family, Gleeson has been writing thesis and conducting research on the Hupa Culture of Northern California with some of his colleagues from SFSU.


Before finishing his research, Gleeson was asked to participate in the Southern California Indian Conference. The conference is a small convention of historians and other anthropologists from around California. On hearing the news of him coming Orange County, Ana Maria Cobos, librarian and former instructor of anthropology, invited him to come to Saddleback. She taught Gleeson when he was at Saddleback and was delighted at the progress he has made from back then and now.


“I’m excited to be on my home turf, and presenting on things from northern California down in southern California,” he said.  


Before the presentation Gleeson talked to Cobos as well as his old teachers: Instructor Mike Merrifield and Instructor Carmenmara Hernandez-Bravo. He starts the presentation with a brief history of himself and then jumped right into the subject matter.

“We live in California, which is the most diverse state regarding culture, it was like that then and it still is today.” Gleeson said. “In fact 30 percent of all known and recognized tribes in the United States are found in just California.”


Gleeson described how the Hupa tribe lived and what they thrived on. Detailing their history from what is known from historians and stories passed down from the tribe to today. He also described how the Hupa tribe is not how they call themselves; they are in fact the Nantanuk. A neighboring tribe with a different language called them Hupa and when white settlers came, they were told they were called the Hupa, and the name has stuck throughout the centuries.


Approximately 1,893 Hupa live on the reservation, but there are more members who live in Sacramento and other cities. On their land the tribe rules itself and charters its own needs.


During the Gold Rush of the 1800’s many tribes in California were wiped out but the Hupa tribe survived and adapted. To this day the people have a celebration every August to celebrate their heritage.

Gleeson finished his lecture by thanking all the students who came to learn from his presentation. The lecture was a practice run for the one that he will present at UCI.

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