The 'ottoy initiative

The Lawrence Hall of Science is the home of UC Berkeley’s 'ottoy initiative. The 'ottoy initiative aims to foster understanding of and respect for Ohlone people and culture and to repair and improve our relationship with the Ohlone community. Vincent Medina and Louis Trevino, co-founders of mak-'amham/Cafe Ohlone, will lead the initiative through their roles at The Lawrence and in collaboration with UC Berkeley’s Native American Thriving Initiatives (NATI), Government & Community Relations, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, and Berkeley Dining. The initiative was originally conceived by Medina and Trevino, in partnership with then Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology Director Lauren Kroiz, and launched in 2022 with support from the Museum and Berkeley Dining.

Cafe Ohlone co-founders Vincent Medina and Louis Trevino with a tribal elder at a Lawrence Hall of Science event

'ottoy

a Chochenyo word describing a philosophy and intention of repair and mending

Objectives

  • Promote a clearer understanding of the lived experiences of the Ohlone people throughout history 
  • Encourage a healthy relationship between the university and the East Bay Ohlone people
  • Enable the campus community with specific cultural wisdom, history, culinary practices, and aesthetics 
  • Support the university’s efforts to establish a just and respectful relationship with the local Indigenous community and provide a true sense of belonging to Indigenous members of the campus community

Initiative Description

'oṭṭoy—to repair or to mend—will be accomplished by means of integrated and sustained education and consultation through campus initiatives, community outreach, and elegant traditional meals. Campus collaborations include academic research across departments; student engagement through student housing and dining programs; and facilities and landscape development—more collaborations are anticipated. Public events may take place across the UC Berkeley campus but will often be hosted in 'oṭṭoytak–The Place of Repair, which refers to the patio adjacent to the Hearst Museum of Anthropology. This intentionally designed space is filled with native gardens lush and fragrant with plants selected by Ohlone elders and the sounds of Chochenyo (the spoken language of the East Bay Ohlone people), native birdsong, and nostalgic music curated by Ohlone elders. Beginning in Spring 2024, it will also offer specialized dining experiences, including seasonal Ohlone food and traditional tea, paired first and foremost with an honest, poignant narrative of the experiences of the East Bay Ohlone people and education about the content of the menu.

'ottoy Projects

Cafe Ohlone co-founders Vincent Medina and Louis Trevino with a tribal elder at a Lawrence Hall of Science event

Educational Experiences

'ottoy leaders Vincent Medina and Louis Trevino offer engaging sessions where they share Ohlone culture with groups of all ages through a combination of stories, activities, and conversation. Educational experiences are tailored to participants’ interests and may be enhanced with Ohlone tea and brownies using traditional recipes provided by Cafe Ohlone. Sessions are usually offered at 'oṭṭoytak–The Place of Repair, which is the name of the patio adjacent to the Hearst Museum of Anthropology. However, we can also tailor our program offerings to other locations throughout campus or at your school, community location, or organization, to accomplish program needs and enhance cross-campus collaborations.  For more information, please contact Deirdre Greene, 'ottoy initiative manager.

A table is filled with dishes of food prepared by Cafe Ohlone

'oṭṭoytak Dining Experience

Cafe Ohlone grew to prominence as the world’s first—and only—restaurant serving the traditional foods of the Ohlone people. The 'ottoy dining experience, developed by the mak-'amham/Cafe Ohlone team, will open on the UC Berkeley campus in Spring 2024. This experience will take place in the 'oṭṭoytak–The Place of Repair, which is located on the patio adjacent to the Hearst Museum of Anthropology. More details will be forthcoming in early 2024.

View from The Lawrence where two visitors are looking out over the bay

Supporting Rightful Presence in Museum Spaces

This project, funded by a National Science Foundation grant, is co-developing an immersive augmented reality exhibition at The Lawrence with Ohlone youth. The exhibit aims to center the Ohlone cultural experience and perspective of the East Bay landscape. The Supporting Rightful Presence team includes exhibit designers, educators, and researchers from The Lawrence and the UC Berkeley School of Information. 'ottoy leaders Vincent Medina and Louis Trevino, are an integral part of this team.

The Lawrence Hall of Science Outdoor Nature Lab

Ohlone Language & Knowledge on Display

The Lawrence is integrating Ohlone knowledge and language into several spaces around the science center. Many of these changes are found in the Robert and Elizabeth Karplus Outdoor Nature Lab, where museumgoers are encouraged to learn about and forge a connection with the natural world. 'ottoy leaders Vincent Medina and Louis Trevino advised on the design of this space. Visitors to the outdoor exhibit will soon be greeted by a land acknowledgment written in Chochenyo—the first language spoken in the East Bay. Additional new signage will share the Chochenyo words and traditional uses for various native plants in our pollinator garden.