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U of San Diego's Take on Building Name Dispute

April 8, 2019
 
 

Junípero Serra (right) was an 18th-century Roman Catholic priest who created missions throughout California. While Serra is considered a hero by many and was declared a saint by Pope Francis in 2015, many Native Americans contend that Serra worked to destroy the cultures and beliefs of those who lived in California before the missionaries arrived. Stanford University last year announced that it was changing the names of two buildings that honored Serra.

The University of San Diego on Friday announced a different approach. What has been called Serra Hall will now be renamed Saints Tekakwitha and Serra Hall. Saint Kateri Tekakwitha was the first Native American Roman Catholic saint. A statement from President James T. Harris III said, “It is hoped that by placing these two Catholic saints together, we will recognize that indigenous peoples preceded the Catholic missionaries who settled here. It is also meant to encourage continued dialogue on the important topics of colonialization, the spread of the Catholic faith and the impact both had on Native American populations.”

The university will also rename the Mission Crossroads Building to Mata'yuum, which means “gathering place” in the language of the Kumeyaay Nation.

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