On Native American Day, Governor Newsom Takes Action to Restore Land, Promote Equity for California Native Communities

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Governor signs legislation on cultural repatriation, promoting access to voting and due process for California Native American communities

As leaders of Native American tribes from across California virtually gather to celebrate the 53rd Annual Native American Day, Governor Gavin Newsom proclaimed Monday as Native American Day and advanced several policies that seek to examine and address historic wrongs and promote access and inclusion for California Native peoples. The Governor delivered remarks at the virtual celebration, themed “Healing Nations – Protecting Elders, Women, and Children.”

“California Native American communities represent the best of who we are and who we can be as Californians,” said Governor Newsom. “The actions we take move us closer toward the goal of reckoning with our past, making space for healing and promoting equity. I thank our partners in the Legislature and everyone who made possible these important advancements, especially the tribal leaders whose persistent advocacy has compelled these changes.”

“Great news on California Native American Day. Thank you Gov. Newsom for moving California Indian issues forward,” said Assemblymember James Ramos (D-Highland). Assemblymember Ramos is the first California Native American elected to the state Legislature.

Ancestral Lands

On Monday, the Governor released a Statement of Administration Policy on Native American Ancestral Lands to encourage State entities to seek opportunities to support California tribes’ co-management of and access to natural lands that are within a California tribe’s ancestral land and under the ownership or control of the State of California, and to work cooperatively with California tribes that are interested in acquiring natural lands in excess of State needs. This Policy comes on the heels of the State Lands Commission’s conveyance of 40 acres of state-owned land within the ancestral lands of the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Tribe to the Tribe for the preservation of tribal cultural resources, and supports actions like the California Natural Resources Agency’s award of Proposition 68 funds for the Esselen Tribe of Monterey County’s acquisition of the 1,199-acre Adler Ranch to protect Native American cultural and natural resources earlier this year.

Assessing Place Names

To build on the Administration’s work to support equity, inclusion and accountability throughout the state to better reflect our values, the California Natural Resources Agency has announced a series of actions to identify and redress racist names of features within the state. Efforts also were announced to expand representation and increase transparency for the California Advisory Committee on Geographic Names, the state committee tasked with recommending changes to geographic names in California.

These actions follow a formal letter Governor Newsom sent to the United States Board of Geographic Names in July strongly recommending renaming Jeff Davis Peak in Alpine County to “Da-ek Dow Go-et,” a name suggested by the Washoe Tribe, which means “saddle between points.” The name change has since been approved.

Truth and Healing Council

Today, the Governor’s Tribal Advisor released the draft charter, call for nominations and consultation report for the California Truth and Healing Council to build out the promise of Executive Order N-15-19. Earlier this week, the Native American Heritage Commission published the Digital Atlas of California Native Americans, which brings to life the rich diversity, histories and cultures of California Native peoples and will serve as an important tool for the Truth and Healing Council, with links to primary-source evidence presented by Benjamin Madley in his 2016 book, An American Genocide.

Legislation

Governor Newsom also signed into law several legislative priorities for California Native American communities:

• AB 168 by Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters) – Planning and zoning: annual report: housing development: streamlined approvals.

• AB 275 by Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland) – Native American cultural preservation.

• AB 1426 by Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath (D-Encinitas) – Public resources: San Onofre State Beach: Richard H. and Donna O’Neill Conservancy: road construction.

• AB 2314 by Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland) – Native American Voting Accessibility Advisory Committee.

• AB 3099 by Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland) – Department of Justice: law enforcement assistance with tribal issues: study.

• SB 869 by Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa) – Tribal gaming: compact ratification.

-Office of Governor Gavin Newsom

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