The new Native American Garden is a 20,000 square-foot area in the upper mall outside the Highland Union Building, or HUB next to Pierce Hall.  The vision for the Native American Garden was to provide a learning and living garden that will honor the land’s original inhabitants. 

The project was planned in collaboration with a working group that included campus leadership, staff, faculty, student, and Indigenous community representatives who came together to review the concepts and designs to bring the vision to light. The garden was designed by landscape architects at the firm Jones and Jones, known for their work on the National Museum of the American Indian, on the National Mall in Washington D.C.

The garden features a variety of trees, plants, and vegetation native to the region and its tribes-- the Cahuilla, Tongva, Luiseño, and Serrano peoples. It includes varieties such as chaparral, oak, sage scrub, palo verde, and desert vegetation. The UCR Botanic Gardens helped find and provided some plants while the Riverside-Corona Resource Conservation District assisted by propagating and storing some plants at its garden nurseries before they were ready for planting.

The garden also features materials, and other elements that reflect the culture and heritage of the Cahuilla, Tongva, Luiseño, and Serrano peoples.  It includes a circular gathering area that can be used for performances, teaching, and other gatherings along with concrete benches with lighting underneath and connecting to an electrical and sound system for events.

Another visual piece is a new mural by Los Angeles-based artist River Garza, whose work includes Indigenous themes, that will hang next to a service building near Pierce Hall.

We hope the garden serves as a space to inspire campus and community engagement, teaching and learning.

Video Spotlight:


Project Timeline: 

Completion Date:
September 2023

PD&C Contact:

Project Manager: Vilma C. Kern
tel: (951) 827-2464

Project Working Group:

Amy Litt, CNAS
Clifford Trafzer, CHASS
Gerald Clarke, CHASS
Jacqueline Shea Murphy, CHASS
Jodie Holt, CNAS
Joshua Gonzales, VCSA
Kat Warren
Lorene Sisquoc, Sherman Indian School and Museum
Toshio Ishida, Facilities Services