Ramos introduces bill to replace toppled Serra statue at Capitol

AB 338 sponsored by six Northern California tribes

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO— Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland) today introduced a measure to replace the statue of controversial Franciscan friar Junipero Serra, overturned by protestors on July 4 during demonstrations following the murder of George Floyd. Because the sculpture was created pursuant to legislation, it will take another law to create a successor monument. Ramos is the first California Native American elected to the Legislature.

The bill is sponsored by six Indian tribes who live in the Sacramento region and whose ancestors populated the land where California’s capitol is located.

“It is time to decide the future of the Serra statue and begin the fuller and more honest assessment of what the Mission period meant to California’s Native Americans. Even Pope Francis, on a trip to Bolivia in 2015, acknowledged the ‘grave sins’ of colonialism against Indigenous people in the Americas. The history and significance behind that apology have yet to be understood here in California,” Ramos said.

Jesus Tarango, Chairman of Wilton Rancheria, whose tribe is among those sponsoring AB 338 said, “A statue of Junipero Serra on Capitol grounds represents a double injury. The Miwok and Nisenan people have lived in this region since time immemorial before the hostile takeover of Native lands by settlers, land barons and gold miners who established Sacramento and the State Capitol. The statue of a figure that represents the Mission period—another earlier time of genocide, slavery, and other degradations imposed upon California Indians—strikes twice at our history. We have yet to see a full telling of what it took to build the State Capitol and who paid that cost. This bill will begin to tell that history for us and for future generations.”

“As my bill moves forward in the legislative process, my colleagues and the public will have the vigorous debate and analysis that was missing when the Serra monument was commemorated on the Capitol grounds in 1967,” Ramos said. “It is time for additional voices to be heard and for California to more fully understand the Mission period. Others who disagree with the Native American perspective on Serra may come forward, but this proposal will ensure a more thorough discussion and analysis.”

AB 338 Proposal and Statue Background

AB 338 would:

  • Remove the statutory requirement that a monument to Junipero Serra be erected and maintained on the State Capitol grounds. (The statue is currently in Department of General Services storage.)
  • Require the statue be replaced by a monument to be created with the input of local Tribal Nations.
  • Require the new Capitol Annex to include a hearing room mural dedicated to the Native people of the State of California.

The monument to Junipero Serra has stood on the Capitol Grounds since April 1967, following legislative action:

  • SB 1605 (McAteer & Rodda, Ch. 1944, Statutes of 1963) authorized the development of a statue of Junipero Serra, devoting $30,000 from the General Fund on the condition that matching funds be put up from private sources.
  • AB 1124 (Marks and Knox, Ch. 370, Statutes of 1965) renewed this legislation and allowed for the development of the statue. Following this legislation, funds were authorized and the statue was placed in its former location.

Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) is a principal co-author. Other legislative co-authors include: Assemblymembers Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno), Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles), Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove), Christina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), Devon Mathis (R-Visalia), Jose Medina (D-Riverside), Luz Rivas (D-Arleta), Robert Rivas (D-Hollister), Freddie Rodriguez (D-Pomona), Blanca Rubio (D- Baldwin Park) and Senators Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys)  and  Monique Limon (D-Santa Barbara).

Sponsors include six Northern California tribes: Wilton Rancheria, Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians, Chicken Ranch Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians, Ione Band of Miwok Indians, Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians and the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians.

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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. He is the first and only California Native American serving in the state’s legislature.