Cheryl Seidner

Former Tribal Chair, Wiyot Tribe

Humboldt State University


Cheryl A. Seidner’s passionate work on behalf of indigenous communities has enriched the lives of people throughout our nation.

Ms. Seidner is recognized for her ability to foster cooperative activism among American Indians at the regional, state and national level. She has taken leadership roles with a number of organizations and on a number of issues. Her work has included serving on the Executive Committee for the National Congress of American Indians and the Northern California Indian Development Council.

As the Tribal Chair for the Wiyot Tribe, Ms. Seidner has dedicated herself to numerous efforts to honor Wiyot world views and cultural practices. She oversaw the repatriation of Indian Island, a sacred site for her people, and was instrumental in bringing back the Wiyot young woman’s coming-of-age ceremony, which had not been held in more than a century. She helped organize what has become an annual candlelight vigil as a memorial to those who died in the massacre of 1860, a dark event in North Coast history which nearly extinguished the Wiyot Tribe.

Ms. Seidner is a published writer and poet whose work has appeared in theHumboldt Historian and News from Native California, as well as books includingCalifornia Fault and Gold, Greed, and Genocide. She has given lectures about the Wiyot people throughout California.

At Humboldt State University, which is located on land once inhabited by the Wiyot Tribe, Ms. Seidner has been a staff member in the Educational Opportunity Program for 28 years. In this role, she has been involved in student outreach, and has made frequent trips to disadvantaged communities. She has been an important mentor to students, many of whom are now taking on regional leadership roles themselves.

Ms. Seidner is a visionary, a leader and a community-builder. In recognition of her life of extraordinary service, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and Humboldt State University are proud to confer upon Cheryl A. Seidner the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.

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