State leaders acknowledge Native American Heritage Month

Governor, Senate and Assembly leaders, Ramos remind state of Indigenous contributions

For immediate release:

Sacramento–State leaders and Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland), the first California Native American elected to the state Legislature, called on Californians to celebrate national Native American Month.

Ramos, chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Native American Affairs, is a lifelong resident of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians reservation and represents most of the County of San Bernardino. “Native Americans have a long history of contributions to this nation in all fields of endeavor. For example, few people know about U.S. Army officer Ely S. Parker, who drafted the Confederate surrender terms at General Ulysses S. Grant’s request at Appomattox at the end of the Civil War or that the ballerinas Maria Tallchief, Rosellas Hightower and others were Native American,” Ramos stated.

He said Native Americans also continue to play key roles in the sciences. “Mary Golda Ross, a NASA scientist and Cherokee, played a critical role in the Apollo missions and John Herrington of the Chickasaw Nation was the first Native American to walk in space in 2002. Native American men and women courageously served in the United States Armed Forces going back to the American Revolution. Those contributions were honored this past Veterans Day with the opening of the National Native American Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. This month is a time to share these and many other stories.”

“During Native American Heritage Month, we take time to recognize and celebrate the first peoples to call these lands home,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement forwarded to Ramos. “As we reflect on the strength and resilience of Native Americans, we also take stock of the work that remains to ensure equity for Native peoples in our state in all aspects of life. This Native American Heritage Month, I encourage all Californians to learn about the immeasurable contributions that Native Americans have made to our past, present and future.”

Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) also spoke about the importance of the month-long commemoration in the state. “California's history is closely connected to the deep roots of the many Native American tribes that were here long before statehood,” she said.  “In my own region, what we now know as San Diego County has been home to the Kumeyaay for over 12,000 years. Native Americans are an integral thread of the diverse fabric that makes up California, and helped build the state we know today through vast cultural and economic contributions.”

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) celebrated the diversity this month represents for California: “My hope is that Native American Month represents an entry into a new Native American era, one in which all Californians recognize that the state we treasure was first occupied by a diversity of cultures no less rich than the diversity we celebrate every day and every month.”

The Assemblymember added that Native American Heritage Month is also a time to educate the public about tribes, to raise general awareness about the unique challenges Native people have faced both historically and in the present day, and the ways in which tribal citizens have worked to conquer these challenges.

Ramos has been successful in passing laws aimed at improving tribal repatriation efforts through AB 275; criminal justice collaboration and assistance for tribal, state and local law enforcement through AB 3099; and increased Native American voter engagement through AB 2314. These statutes move the needle forward on positive changes in Indian country, he said. His role as the chair of the Select Committee on Native Americans Affairs has also positioned Native Americans at the center of policy discussions.

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Assemblymember James Ramos proudly represents the 40th Assembly district which includes Highland, Loma Linda, Mentone, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, and San Bernardino.