University of California, Berkeley
The Hearst Gymnasium in 1927.

Are Ancestors Haunting Hearst Gymnasium at UC Berkeley?


The Daily Clog calls it the “Haunted House of Hearst,” Native American tribes know it isn’t the proper place for their ancestors, but some 10,000 sets of human remains are housed under the Hearst Gymnasium swimming pool at the University of California, Berkeley.

“We don’t appreciate them keeping our ancestors locked up in a drawer,” Ted Howard, cultural resources director of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes, told the Los Angeles Times in 2008. “This is a human rights issue to the tribes. All we’re asking for is to be treated fairly.”

The Native remains have been stored under the pool since the 1960s after being dug up by university archaeologists.

The tribes may not be the only ones upset by the way the remains are being treated—being stores in boxes instead of having proper reburials. Workers at Hearst have reported strange experiences.

Former employee Brian Mogollon told The Daily Clog, a blog by The Daily Californian, that he would hear late-night noises.

“(Work) Hearst alone—and I mean alone,” David Dakwa, another former Cal Recreational Sports employee says, “and walk through with minimal lights and see how you feel.”

According to Tony Platt, a visiting professor of justice studies at San Jose State University, Berkeley has only repatriated 315 sets of remains as of June 2013 and they should get that process moving to repair relationships with the Native American tribes.

The university should take responsibility for, in Heizer’s [Robert Heizer, distinguished anthropologist at Berkeley in 1974] words, ‘a human ethical’ issue, namely, how so many well-educated, well-meaning professors and administrators eagerly violated the rights of the dead and tormented the living,” Platt says in an opinion piece published by the Los Angeles Times.

Heizer apologized in 1974 for the “continued digging up of the graves of their [Natives] ancestors.”