HEIZER, Robert Fleming

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HEIZER, Robert Fleming (1915-1979) was born in Denver, Colorado on July 13, 1915, the son of Ott and Martha Madden Heizer. He spent much of his childhood in Nevada where he began his lifelong interest in Native American cultures; he went on his first excavation when he attended Sacramento Junior College (1932-34). He earned his Bachelor of Arts from U. C. Berkeley in 1936 and his doctorate in 1941. In 1940 Heizer married Nancy Elizabeth Jenkins, and they had three children: Stephen, Michael and Sydney. They divorced in 1975.


» Heizer, Robert F. Book Review of Prehistoric Man of the Santa Barbara Coast by David Banks Rogers in American Antiquity VI:4 (372-375) 1941

» Heizer, Robert F. The Distribution and Name of the Chumash Plank Canoe in Masterkey XV:2 (59-61) 1941

» Heizer, Robert F. Aboriginal Use of Bitumen by the California Indians in California Division of Mines Bulletin 118 (74) 1943

» Heizer, Robert F. Mines and Quarries of the Indians of California in California Journal of Mines and Geology XL (291-360) 1944

» Heizer, Robert F. Curved Single-Piece Fishhooks of Shell and Bone in California in American Antiquity XV:2 (89-97) 1949

» Heizer, Robert F. The California Indian U.C. Press, Berkeley, 1951

» Heizer, Robert F. and Harper Kelley Burins and Bladelets in the Cessac Collection from Santa Cruz Island, California in American Philosophical Society 106:2 (94-105) 1962

» Heizer, Robert F. Aboriginal California U.C. Press, Berkeley 1963; A Probable Relic of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in Masterkey XLVII:2 (62-67) 1973

» Heizer, Robert F. et al. California Indian History Ballena Press, Ramona, 1975.



In the News~

December 26, 1972 [Desert Sun]: “Berkeley — A University of California anthropologist believes he has found the grave marker of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the Spanish “discoverer of California.” Dr. Robert F. Heizer, professor of anthropology at Berkeley, said Wednesday the foot-long block of sandstone was found on the Channel Islands of Santa Barbara. It bears the crudely carved initials ”J.R.,” a cross and a stick figure gouged into it. Heizer said he believes it was placed over Cabrillo's grave after he died Jan. 3, 1543, while leading the first exploration of the California coast by Europeans. Heizer conceded that it was impossible to prove the stone was the oldest historical relic of Spanish California because of the fragmentary accounts of Cabrillo's voyage and a lack of scientific tests to date the block. ”Without the means of proving that the stone is or is not the one which marked Cabrillo's grave, we are simply left with the possibility it may be that marker,” Heizer said in a monograph published Wednesday by U.C.'s Lowie Museum of Anthropology, where the stone went on display. ”I personally believe that it is probably the grave marker of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo,” said the anthropologist, who later described his conclusion as ”an intuitive one.” Heizer found the stone on campus in the Lowie Museum's collection. It was placed there by Philip Mills Jones, who picked it up from Santa Rosa Island in the Channel group in 1901. The UC professor began researching the possibility it was Cabrillo's gravestone last summer after looking through a report on Jones' trip that Heizer and a colleague edited 16 years ago. On reviewing the report, it occurred to him ”that the initials might be those of the discovered of California, Juan Rodriguez, usually known as Cabrillo.” He said Spanish historians confirmed that a stone, rather than the usual wooden cross, might well have been used to mark the grave of the leader of an expedition. And they said the joined letters were consistent with lettering used in 16th century Spain. Cabrillo voyaged north from Mexico in 1542 after serving with Cortez in the conquest of the Aztec empire. His two ships dropped anchor in San Diego Bay in September 1542, the first Europeans to land on the shores of California. They sailed further north, making several stops before arriving at Monterey Bay. They turned back to winter on the Channel Islands, where Cabrillo died on Jan. 3, 1543 from injuries suffered in a fall during a previous stop at the islands off Santa Barbara. The two ships later sailed north past the mouth of San Francisco Bay, to Point Arena, then returned to Mexico. The voyages had little impact, except to convince the Spanish the Indians possessed no gold or silver. The next Spanish voyage of exploration didn't come for 60 years and settlement began a full two centuries later. Heizer said objections to the stone being accepted as Cabrillo's grave marker includes the possibility it is a fake, the possibility the initials refer to some missionized Indian, a vaquero, a shepherd or a casual visitor of recent centuries, and historians' generally accepted view that Cabrillo was buried on San Miguel Island and not Santa Rosa where Jones picked up the 13.5-inch long, 4.5-inch wide, 2-inch thick chunk of sandstone. It was not marking a grave at the time and may have been carried to Santa Rosa from some other island, Heizer said. He also noted that records of Cabrillo's voyages are a confused abstract of the original log which is unclear about the exact burial site. ”The fact of his death resulting from a broken limb we can accept, and we can also take as fact that his body was taken ashore and buried,” he wrote. ”But where he was interred we are not told with certainty, and nothing at all is said about the circumstances of his burial.” The University of California's Bancroft Library in Berkeley holds another disputed artifact from 16th century California, a brass plate left by Sir Francis Drake when he anchored somewhere on the north coast above San Francisco Bay.” [The Drake plate was later found to be a fake.]