Native American Death Certificates

Sovereign Bodies Institute filed this request with the San Mateo County Clerk of San Mateo County, CA.
Est. Completion None
Fix Required


From: Sovereign Bodies Institute

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the California Public Records Act, I hereby request the following records:

Informational copies of all American Indian and Alaska Native death certificates held by the San Mateo County Clerk's office.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 10 calendar days, as the statute requires.


Sovereign Bodies Institute


Dear Sovereign Bodies Institute,

Your below request for "Informational copies of all American Indian and Alaska Native death certificates held by the San Mateo County Clerk's office" was forwarded to me today for response. The Office of Vital Statistics holds all death certificates in the county, however, there is no way to search for death certificates by ethnicity and therefore we cannot provide you the requested informational death certificates. I have inquired about other ways to obtain the data you seek, and unfortunately we are prohibited from disclosing the data that we hold within our public health department of deaths by ethnicity pursuant to Health & Safety Code sections 102100, 102230, 102231, 102360, 103650, 103526, 103655, Government Code section 6276.06 and 17 Cal. Code Regs. section 902 and our contracts with the State of California for access to this data. The data we have, however, we obtain from the State of California, and, as they maintain the database of deaths in all 58 counties, they may have the legal authority to provide you with the data. You can also review information at their website:; and
We can, however, provide you with informational death certificates if you provide the name of the individual and fill out the appropriate forms. 17 Cal. Code Regs. sec. 902. If you would like to pursue this route, please let me know and I will forward you the appropriate forms.

I also consulted with the Coroner to determine whether they would have records responsive to your request and they informed me that the information you seek is typically gathered from family at a funeral home and entered by funeral home staff. The Coroner's system records deaths by race but only captures "Native American" or "Other" and may not reflect what is captured on a death certificate. Moreover, the system does not allow for a search by that field, nor does the Coroner receive notice of all deaths within San Mateo County.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions, or if I can be of further assistance.

Rebecca M. Archer
Lead Deputy County Counsel
400 County Center-6th Floor
Redwood City, CA 94063

Dir: (650) 363-4686
Main: (650) 363-4250


There are no files associated with this request.