SACRAMENTO— Public schools, parks, libraries, and museums may begin recognizing the past tribal guardianship of lands where their organizations are located under a measure introduced recently by Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland). This practice of land acknowledgement would inform Californians and others about the history and treatment of the state’s original people.
“We cannot begin to remedy past injustices without acknowledging and educating ourselves of the history of settler immigration to California and the forced removal of people from the lands where they lived and worked,” Ramos said.
AB 1968, the Tribal Land Acknowledgement Act of 2020, encourages public educational, cultural and recreational institutions to adopt land acknowledgement processes through such means as printed statements, plaques, websites and social media.
Ramos stated, “Cultural institutions have a duty to present accurate historical information that concedes past wrongs and broadens cultural understanding.” Had the 18 original treaties with California Native American tribes been honored by state and federal governments, the state’s tribes would possess more than 7.5 million acres of land, he noted. “California tribes today collectively possess only about seven percent of the territory they originally occupied,” Ramos said.
Advocates of the bill argue federal and state governments and agencies eroded the stewardship and visibility of California Indian people. Nevertheless, Native Americans remain actively engaged in cultural revitalization, resource protection and self-determination across the state. Systematic denial of indigenous knowledge, cultural authority and historical experiences has resulted in the practical erasure of Native American history and civilization, according to bill proponents.
“AB 1968 would encourage us all to consider the past and what it means to occupy lands that were initially, and still are, inhabited by Native Americans,” Ramos said. He added that Indigenous people already practice land acknowledgment among tribes to establish a respectful routine and a habit of offering reconciliation tribes and those currently occupying the physical space.
The California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center and California Indian Museum and Cultural Center are sponsors of the proposal. AB 1968 will be heard in the Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, and Internet Media Committee.
Assemblymember James Ramos proudly represents the 40th Assembly district which includes Highland, Loma Linda, Mentone, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, and San Bernardino.