American Indian center might close its doors

Hintil Kuu Ca in the early 1980s. (Courtesy photo)I drove up to the Hintil Kuu Ca childhood development center this morning (yesterday morning, technically). It’s name means “Indian children’s house,” according to this fascinating article about the center published in 1986 in Cultural Survival Quarterly.

Hintil opened in 1973; it was started by mothers whose kids — recently relocated from reservations as part of a federal government integration program — were struggling socially and academically in Oakland schools. In the late 70s or early 80s, it moved to its current location in the Oakland hills, near Merritt College and behind Carl Munck Elementary.

But Hintil is on the list of seven childhood development centers the Oakland school district plans to close at the end of the month in response to the governor’s proposed budget cuts. District spokesman Troy Flint said staff wanted to keep open centers that were more centrally located. About 90 children attend the preschool or the before- and after-school program at Hintil.

Shirley Guevara, who has taught at Hintil since 1984, says parents, teachers and Native American community members are trying to find a way to keep it open, possibly as a parent cooperative. She said it’s one of the last resources available for young American Indian children. About 175 are enrolled in the Oakland school district.

“I don’t understand how the school district can say, `We’re closing the doors on you,'” Guevar said.

Look for a story about the center in the Trib (run date TBD).

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Maria Spencer

    I can’t believe after all these years, I had six children that went through Hintil and then to Carl B Munck. They are half Navajo, Laguna pueblo and filipino. Their grandparents were part of relocation. This move to close Hintil will effect the 3rd and forward generations of Native Americans. This Center is part of history of the relocation period and how this center has assisted those families with assimilation as well. Please don’t close this center.

  • Becky Beane

    Hintil Kuu Ca has an extraordinary history for Native Americans in the Bay area for children, families and the Native community itself. It is indeed “a house of children”, where the focus is on educating children in the Native cultural ways as well as strengthening the child’s academic skills. By focusing on the Native culture of the child, self esteem is being built. When a child knows and understands themselves better,they will perform their best not only in school but in life. The Native American drop-out rate is one of the highest, and programs such as Hintil help to combat this problem by keeping the children in school. Hintil provides a safe, fun, culturally relevant place for the children to be before and after school and during the summer for academic enhancement, skill building and cultural learning. Families also participate in activities and fundraisers.
    I was Head teacher at Hintil for several years until my family moved to Minnesota, and the program is still very close to my heart. I still hear from a number of the “children” who grew up there, who are now my Facebook Friends. The Hintil Family is special, and an important part of the education system for Native children in the Oakland area. It would be a disservice to the Native community who fought so hard to have this program exist to have it close now. Mvto.