Department News

Department News

The Passing of Joseph A. Myers

January 7, 2021

It is with profound sadness that I write to announce the passing of Professor Joseph Myers who for 29 years shared his vast knowledge of federal Indian law, his deeply valued cultural wisdom, and his life-long dedication to education with our Ethnic Studies Community. 

An uncompromising champion on behalf of the rights of Indigenous communities in California, Prof. Myers served as Founder and Executive Director of the National Indian Justice Center and as President of the Board of Directors of the California Indian Museum and Cultural Center, and was a tireless advocate of legal education in Native communities. In our department, Prof. Myers offered distinctive courses on federal Indian law and tribal governments and worked to develop course content on Native California. Known for his good humor, generosity, and sparkling wit, each year Joe served as emcee of the campus-wide Native American graduation, offering each student his support and encouragement in a way that only he could. 

Prof. Joseph Myers has left us with an incredible legacy of service and commitment and he will be missed by all who have been touched by his indomitable spirit.

Please read the statement posted by the California Indian Museum and Cultural Center (CIMCC) below to learn more about his legacy and contributions and the details regarding the service in his honor. All of us in Ethnic Studies extend our heartfelt condolences to his family, his communities of belonging, his students, and all that were touched by his spirit.

Rest in Power.


Statement from the California Indian Museum and Cultural Center

Our founder and chairman of the CIMCC Board of Directors has walked on to the spirit world. We are devastated by this loss. He was a fearless leader and educator. He was dedicated to public awareness of California Indian history and cultural revitalization. We will continue to carry on his visionary work for future generations. Please take a moment to learn about his life’s work and honor his legacy. May he forever Rest In Peace and Power!

JOSEPH A. MYERS, a Pomo Indian of northern California, was born on January 16, 1940 in Cloverdale, California. He served as the Executive Director of the National Indian Justice Center (NIJC), a non-profit corporation in Santa Rosa, California. He founded the NIJC in 1983, as an independent resource for tribal governments and their courts. NIJC creates and conducts legal education, research, and technical assistance programs aimed at improving the administration of justice in Indian country. 

Mr. Myers began his career as a law enforcement officer in Oakland. He was the first known California Indian to join the California Highway Patrol Officer. He was a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), School of Law at Boalt Hall. From 1976 to 1983 Mr. Myers served as associate director of the American Indian Lawyer Training Program, creating and managing its tribal court advocate training project. During this time, he collaborated with the California Indian Legal Services to bring a lawsuit against the Bureau of Indian Affairs on behalf of his mother Tillie Hardwick. This case reversed the termination of 17 California Indian Rancheria communities. Mr. Myers contributed significantly to the improvement of education, justice and the quality of life in Indian country. For the past 29 years he lectured in Native American Studies at UCB. In 1993, Mr. Myers received national recognition from Attorney General Janet Reno for his work on behalf of victims of crime in Indian country. On December 6, 2002, the California Wellness Foundation awarded him the California Peace Prize for his work in violence prevention on Indian reservations. In 2010, Mr. Myers received the Peter E. Haas Public Service Award from U.C. Berkeley. Additionally, Mr. Myers was a founding board member of the California Indian Museum and Cultural Center. From 2002 to 2018, he served as Chairperson of CALTRANS Native American Advisory Committee. UCB honored Mr. Myers by naming a research center in his honor, the Joseph A. Myers Center which is housed at UC Berkeley’s Institute for the Study of Societal Issues (ISSI); the center’s name is intended to recognize his extensive service to Indian country.

On December 29, 2020, Joseph Myers passed away from complications related to his heart. He has left us with an amazing legacy of his achievements.

Announcement of Funeral Services for Joseph Myers

Joseph A. Myers, will be laid to rest on Friday, January 8, 2021. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, he will not have public funeral services. There will be a viewing at Eggen and Lance Mortuary in Santa Rosa, California from 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Eggen and Lance Mortuary is located at 1540 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95401. To attend the viewing, use the following link to specify a time for your arrival to Eggen and Lance. Specify arrival time at:

Family and friends may visit in 20 minute intervals. The mortuary will conduct COVID-19 cleaning protocols prior to the entrance of the next group. We want you to be safe. Please note that the Myers Family will have a Celebration of Life Event for Joe once it is safe to gather. Please stay safe and healthy.

Flowers may be sent to Eggen and Lance for the viewing on January 8, 2021. Sympathy cards may be sent to the Myers Family c/o NIJC/CIMCC, 5250 Aero Drive, Santa Rosa, CA, 95492. Donations in Joe’s honor may be made to CIMCC through: